NSAC's Blog

$21 Million Announced for Projects that Connect Families to Healthy Food

September 29, 2017

This C-Town Supermarket in Hartford, CT connects more SNAP users with healthy foods thanks to Wholesome Wave’s “SNAP UP” Program. Photo credit: Wholesome Wave.

Editor’s Note: USDA’s NIFA will host a free informational webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 19, 2016 at 2:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. An archived version will be available on NIFA’s FINI webpage following the webinar.

A $21 million infusion of funds through the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program will help families in need of nutrition assistance to receive the services and outreach they need.

Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, FINI is a competitive grant program that helps low-income families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables. FINI projects do this by providing cash incentives that increase SNAP users’ purchasing power, which both increases families’ access to fresh, healthy food, and also expands the customer base of local farmers.

Earlier this week, USDA released their fourth Request for Applications (RFA) for FINI projects that support and incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetable by families and households participating in the SNAP program. The deadline to submit proposals December 13, 2017 at 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time. Proposals should be submitted online via http://www.grants.gov/.

Since 2015, FINI has awarded $48.2 million in funding to projects nationwide; $100 million in total funds has been allocated for the program between 2014 and 2018. FINI is jointly administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Food and Nutrition Service.

Project Types

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 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.
  • 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.

Priority Considerations

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.
  • 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.
  • Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities.

For more information on the program requirements, the application process, and priority considerations click here.

FINI in Action

In 2017, the Community Farm Alliance (KY) was awarded $602,159 to merge Community Farm Alliance’s (CFA) farmers’ market DoubleDollars Program and Bluegrass Farm to Table’s FINI-piloted Bluegrass Double DollarsProgram. Combining these two programs will allow CFA to create a comprehensive, statewide incentive program to increase the purchase and consumption of Kentucky-grown produce among low-income individuals.

Another NSAC member organization, Fair Food Network (MI) was awarded $3.5 million to assist more than 172,000 food-insecure individuals by scaling a highly innovative and efficient form of the successful Double Up Healthy Food Incentive program. Specifically, the proposed project will implement three core innovations: widespread implementation in grocery stores; high-tech e-incentive card systems; and interoperability across retail locations, allowing SNAP users more choice in how they earn and use incentives.

A full list of the 2017 funded projects can be found on USDA’s website here.

Categories: Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access

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