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USDA commits $52 million to enhance healthy food access

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a substantial investment exceeding $52 million, with the goal of enhancing dietary health and improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables for eligible families.  

This funding is channeled into supporting various initiatives under the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), encompassing three competitive grant programs administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 

GusNIP, named in honor of former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture Gus Schumacher, is dedicated to bolstering food and nutrition security for underserved communities.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, highlights that investments of this nature enable individuals to afford and incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into their diets, eliminating the need to compromise between nutritious choices and more budget-friendly but less healthy alternatives. 

The GusNIP program comprises three grant initiatives: Nutrition Incentive, Produce Prescription, and the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information (NTAE) Center.  

These programs bring together stakeholders from diverse segments of the food and healthcare systems to foster understanding, enhance the health and nutritional well-being of participating households, stimulate growth in underrepresented communities, and aggregate data for broader improvements in dietary health. 

Since its inception in 2019, GusNIP has channeled over $270 million in funding to support nearly 200 projects throughout the United States. Participants in GusNIP programs consistently report increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, illustrating the positive impact of these initiatives. 

The funding allocation includes $41.8 million for 19 awardees of the Nutrition Incentive (NI) program. NI projects encourage the purchase of fruits and vegetables among income-eligible households participating in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. 

Also, $5.2 million has been designated for 11 awardees involved in Produce Prescription projects. These initiatives aim to evaluate the impact of fresh fruit and vegetable prescriptions on procurement, consumption, food security, and healthcare costs. 

An additional $7 million has been allocated to the NTAE Center program, which offers training, technical assistance, evaluation, and informational support services. 

This significant investment underscores USDA's unwavering commitment to promoting healthy dietary choices and addressing food insecurity, particularly within vulnerable communities. 

Source : wisconsinagconnection

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