April 1, 2015
Today in Orlando, Florida, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced $31.5 million in funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program. FINI grants are awarded to organizations to advance incentive programs to improve the nutrition and health status of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households.
Authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, FINI is a joint effort between the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). FNS overseas SNAP, and is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of incentive programs and NIFA manages the program. Overall, the USDA funded 31 projects in 26 states, using the combined farm bill funds for the fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized $100 million for FINI between 2014 and 2018, including $35 million for 2014 and 2015 combined.
FINI boosts economic opportunities for farmers while improving the health of low income communities. Specifically, by providing incentives at the point of purchase, the goals of FINI grants are to increase fruit and vegetable purchases among SNAP participants. Matching funds at participating markets in low income neighborhoods simultaneously improves access of healthy foods in underserved areas while reducing affordability barriers to buying fruits and vegetables.
Types of Grants Available
Three separate types of grants were awarded — pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, and multi-year large-scale projects. Among all of the grants, priority was given to innovative approaches to improve benefit redemption systems, use of direct-t0-consumer marketing, incentive program experience, and programs located in underserved communities.
Large-Scale Projects will test strategies to better inform how healthy food incentives can best promote fruits and vegetable consumption by SNAP participants. They are meant to support multi-county, statewide, and regional programs and are meant to expand the breadth, scope, or reach of existing programs. Over $27 million was awarded to 8 such projects in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Washington, including three to NSAC member groups:
Multi-Year Community Based Projects receive up to $500,000 for a project not exceeding four years. These projects are aimed for mid-sized organizations with prior experience implementing incentive programs to support community-based food projects at the local or state level. The programs were awarded $2.5 million collectively for programs in Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maine, Louisiana, and California. For instance:
Pilot Projects are for one year projects for new entrants in the early stages of incentive program development and can award up to $100,000. Sixteen of these projects were awarded throughout California, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Georgia, Illinois, Idaho, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Texas. These pilot programs help to start incentive projects for SNAP participants, expand existing programs into to new communities, provide technical assistance to retailers, or test the effectiveness of different interventions.