( USDA )

Grants totaling more than $40 million have been awarded to programs to give food stamp consumers incentives to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture said the agency awarded $41.4 million in 23 competitive grants to support projects to boost the purchase of fruits and vegetables among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program consumers. The grants help fund projects that provide point of purchases incentives, according to the release.

The funding comes from the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program. The program, referred to as GusNIP, was reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and is the successor to the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI).

“Building upon the achievements of its predecessor program, FINI, GusNIP uses healthy incentives to encourage the buying of fruits and vegetables at the point of purchase,” NIFA director J. Scott Angle said in the release. “This is a win-win for those participating in SNAP and for farmers at farmers markets where many of these projects are operating.”

Angle said in the release that the grants bolster local and regional food systems and help contribute to their long-term presence.

GusNIP is a joint program between NIFA and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees the SNAP program.

The release said the grant winners represent a variety of peer-reviewed projects, including small pilot projects, regular projects, large-scale projects, produce prescription projects, and one training, technical assistance, evaluation, and information center project.

“One of the new components this year of the program created by the 2018 Farm Bill that we are excited about is the produce prescription projects,” Angle said in the release. “These projects present an opportunity to bring together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food and healthcare systems to foster a better understanding of how the health and nutrition status of participating households prescribed fresh fruits and vegetables is improved.”

Forsyth Farmers Market in Chatham County, Ga. received funding to partner with four area health care clinics to serve 200 participants and their families each year.

In Frankfort, Ky., the Community Farm Alliance received a grant to merge their efforts with the Community Farmers Market to establish a regional, multi-location produce prescription program, according to the release.

A full list of produce prescription projects funded is available on the USDA website.


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