Small Farms and Low Income Families Benefit from This New Grant Program

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SNAP program

April 1, 2015; Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton, MI)

On April 1st, Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the recipients of $31.5 million in grants from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program.

The FINI program was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. Grants have been awarded to local programs and at least one national network that’s designed to

  1. Double the amount that SNAP recipients can buy at Farmers’ Markets (spend $10 for $20 worth of food) or other venues where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold, and
  2. By so doing, support local farmers doing business at those markets

One of the highest-level grantees, the national Wholesome Wave network, will work across 17 states and D.C. to establish approximately 177 new venues for the program with its $3.77 million grant. In Berkeley, with its $3.7 million, the Ecology Center said it plans to link nearly 240,000 shoppers with the produce of 2,200 of the state’s small farms, stimulating almost $10 million in sales of fruits and vegetables. In Michigan the Fair Food Network received $5.2 million to expand the Double Up Food Bucks program.

Those three programs were in the small group receiving the largest level of funding, but programs in 26 states have been funded for up to four years, using funds from FY2014 and FY2015. The announcement says that the USDA will issue a separate request for applications in FY16, and later years.

Requirements for the programs are that:

“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.”

NPQ would love to hear about these programs as they progress. The fiscal year 2014 and 2015 awards are:

Pilot projects (up to $100,000, not to exceed 1 year):

  • 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

—Ruth McCambridge