USDA announces funding for nutrition incentive programs

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sept. 22, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $21 million to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables by providing incentives at the point of purchase. The funding comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, and the public health implications are staggering,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Through FINI, we offer healthier eating options to millions of SNAP participants to help combat chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.”

FINI is a joint program between NIFA and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and is responsible for evaluating the impact of the variety of incentive programs that are deployed by FINI grantees. The program brings together stakeholders from different parts of the national food system to improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households. The FINI program supports a wide range of small pilot projects, multi-year community programs, and multi-year, large-scale initiatives.

Eligible applicants include government agencies and non-profit organizations.

The deadline for applications is December 13, 2017. See the request for applications for details.

Since 2014, NIFA has awarded more than $65 million through the FINI program. Among past projects, The Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) serves residents of eastern Kentucky counties through the Farmacy Health Improvement Program. The Farmacy program offers produce vouchers to eligible MCHC patients with specific medical conditions such as pregnancy, Type 1 or 2 or diabetes, obesity, or hypertension. Patients may redeem vouchers at select local farmers markets, which also offer workshops and education programs on healthy eating and growing produce. A 2016 survey results of the Farmacy Program found that nearly 54 percent of participants surveyed reduced the amount of money they typically spend on healthcare; nearly 70 percent froze or canned the fruits and vegetables bought through the FARMACY program; and 50 percent of participants saw improvements in blood pressure.

The Fair Food Network project in Ann Arbor, Michigan developed solutions that work across the food system to support farmers, strengthen local economies, and increase access to healthy food–especially in low-income communities. As a result of this project, the “Double Up Food Bucks” program became a national model for other healthy food incentives that are now active in nearly 20 states. This project helps low-income Americans bring home healthier food while supporting family farmers and growing local economies.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/Impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

Source:-.eurekalert.