Grants Available to Incentivize SNAP Produce Purchases
October 7, 2015
On Tuesday, October 6, the U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $16.8 million through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Grant program, a competitive grants program to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. Improving the affordability and consumption of fruits and vegetables not only helps to improve the health of families, but also expands economic opportunities for farmers.
The deadline to submit proposals is Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 5 pm Eastern Time.
FINI is a joint effort between USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which administers the grant program, and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which oversees SNAP and has responsibility for evaluating the impacts of the incentive projects.
FINI Project Types
The current funding round represents the second Request for Application (RFA) for FINI released by USDA. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized FINI as a new program and allocated $100 million for the program between 2014 and 2018.
Applications will be accepted for three project types:
- Pilot Projects — one year projects with a grant maximum of $100,000 aimed at new entrants seeking funding for a project in the early stages of incentive program development.
- Multi-year Community-Based Projects — projects of up to four years with a grant maximum of $500,000 aimed at mid-sized groups developing incentive programs at the local or state level.
- Multi-year Large Scale Projects — projects of up to four years for grants of $500,000 or more aimed at groups developing multi-county, state, and regional incentive programs.
Requirements for FINI Projects
FINI projects must:
- have support of the state agency responsible for administering SNAP;
- increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income SNAP consumers at the point of purchase;
- operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and be in compliance with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements;
- agree to participate in the FINI comprehensive program evaluation;
- ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by individuals receiving SNAP benefits and incentives under FINI as apply to purchases made by individuals who are not SNAP participants; and
- include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities.
FINI requires a dollar for dollar match of the total cost of the project using cash and/or in-kind contributions. The non-Federal share of the funding may come from State government, local government, or private sources.
NIFA will give priority to projects that:
- maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
- test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to understanding how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants and would inform future efforts;
- develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
- use direct-to-consumer sales marketing;
- demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers;
- provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience; and
- are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities.
How to Apply
Only nonprofit organizations and government agencies are eligible to apply for FINI grants, including state, local, and tribal agencies, farmers markets, community supported agriculture programs, agricultural cooperatives, public benefit corporations, and producer networks or associations, among others. See the RFA for a full list of eligible applicants.
In addition, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- have experience in (i) efforts to reduce food insecurity in the community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs; or (ii) experience with the SNAP program;
- demonstrate competency to implement a project, provide fiscal accountability, collect data, and prepare reports and other necessary documentation;
- secure the commitment of the State SNAP agency to cooperate with the project; and
- possess a demonstrated willingness to share information with researchers, evaluators (including the independent evaluator for the program), practitioners, and other interested parties, including a plan for dissemination of results to stakeholders.
Applicants are encouraged to seek and create partnerships with public or private, non-profit or for-profit entities. Only the applicants (and not project partners and collaborators) must meet the eligibility requirements.
Applications must be submitted electronically via the Grants.gov website. As the one-time registration process must be completed prior to submitting an application and can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, new applicants are encouraged to begin this process as soon as possible.
Resources and Deadline
For more information on FINI and the application process, please see the Request for Application and NSAC’s FINI page from its Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.
Additionally, NIFA will be hosting a webinar for applicants on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., EDT and accessible at http://nifa-connect.nifa.usda.gov/finip/
The webinar will be recorded and posted to the USDA FINI webpage. Check back after October 14, 2015 to view the webinar.
The FINI application must be submitted electronically via the Grants.gov website by Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 5 pm Eastern Time.
Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access