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Administration Awards $31.5 Million To Encourage Food Stamp Recipients To Eat More Fruits, Veggies

The Obama administration has awarded more that $31 million in grants to help food stamp recipients buy more fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack says the agency has provided $31.5 million in grants to organizations that will help support beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — or food stamps — “increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables.”

“Encouraging low income families to put more healthy food in their grocery baskets is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to improving the diet and health of all Americans,” Vilsack announced.

The funding for what the USDA says “will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables” was authorized by the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) with Congress’ passage of the 2014 farm bill.

According to Vilsack, the government funding will also aid local producers and economies.

“These creative community partnerships also benefit regional food producers and local economies along with SNAP participants,” he said.

USDA notes that the funded projects are in 26 states for “up to 4 years.”

“The awards under FINI represent a variety of projects, including relatively small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, and larger-scale multi-year projects,” USDA explained.

The agency noted it will evaluate the projects as a way to determine best practices for increasing healthier SNAP purchases.

“Priority was given to projects that develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that can be replicated, use direct-to-consumer marketing, show previous success implementing nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers with agricultural producers, provide locally- or regionally-produced fruits and vegetables, and are located in underserved communities,” USDA noted.

More than 46.2 million Americans were receiving SNAP benefits in December, according to the most recent available data and the average new SNAP recipient will stay on the program for a year.

The organizations that received SNAP healthy eating grants include:

•Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services, Woodland, Calif., $100,000

•Heritage Ranch, Inc., Honaunau, Hawaii, $100,000

•Backyard Harvest, Inc., Moscow, Idaho, $10,695

•City of Aurora, Aurora, Ill., $30,000

•Forsyth Farmers’ Market, Inc., Savannah, Ga., $50,000

•Blue Grass Community Foundation, Lexington, Ky., $47,250

•Lower Phalen Creek Project, Saint Paul, Minn., $45,230

•Vermont Farm-to-School, Inc., Newport, V.T., $93,750

•New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, Santa Fe, N.M., $99,999

•Santa Fe Community Foundation, Santa Fe, N.M., $100,000

•Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, Greensboro, N.C., $99,987

•Chester County Food Bank, Exton, Pa., $76,543

•Nurture Nature Center, Easton, Pa., $56,918

•Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa., $46,442

•Rhode Island Public Health Institute, Providence, R.I., $100,000

•San Antonio Food Bank, San Antonio, Texas, $100,000

Multi-year community-based projects (up to $500,000, not to exceed 4 years):

•Mandela Marketplace, Inc., Oakland, Calif., $422,500

•Market Umbrella, New Orleans, La., $378,326

•Maine Farmland Trust, Belfast, Maine, $249,816

•Farmers Market Fund, Portland, Ore., $499,172

•The Food Trust, Philadelphia, Pa., $500,000

•Utahns Against Hunger, Salt Lake City, Utah, $247,038

•Opportunity Council, Bellingham, Wash., $301,658

Multi-year large-scale projects ($500,000 or greater, not to exceed 4 years):

•Ecology Center, Berkeley, Calif., $3,704,287

•Wholesome Wave Foundation Charitable Ventures, Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., $3,775,700

•AARP Foundation, Washington, D.C., $3,306,224

•Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Gainesville, Fla., $1,937,179

•Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, Boston, Mass., $3,401,384

•Fair Food Network, Ann Arbor, Mich., $5,171,779

•International Rescue Committee, Inc., New York, N.Y., $564,231

•Washington State Department of Health, Tumwater, Wash., $5,859,307

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