Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has awarded $31.5 million in funding to local, state, and national organizations to support programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables, including more than $4 million for California.
Recognizing that all Americans fall well short of the servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the grants will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. These grants were made through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The USDA is funding projects in 26 states for up to 4 years, using funds from FY2014 and FY2015. The California projects are as follows:
Pilot projects (up to $100,000, not to exceed 1 year):
- Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services, Woodland, Calif., $100,000 for “Bonus Bucks” program in cooperation with local grocers.
Multi-year community-based projects (up to $500,000, not to exceed 4 years):
- Mandela Marketplace, Inc., Oakland, Calif., $422,500 for an online direct-to-consumer incentive program at SNAP-authorized retailers.
Multi-year large-scale projects ($500,000 or greater, not to exceed 4 years):
- Ecology Center, Berkeley, Calif., $3,704,287 for dollar-to-dollar matching of SNAP benefits.
Here are descriptions of all the funded projects.
All FINI projects must (1) have the support of a state SNAP agency; (2) increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (3) operate through authorized SNAP retailers; (4) agree to participate in the comprehensive FINI program evaluation; (5) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by both SNAP participants and non-participants; and (6) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities.