April 1, 2015

USDA Announces Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants

Grants Important for Increasing Access to Fruits and Vegetables among Lower-Income Populations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 1, 2015) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the recipients of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Program (FINI) grants. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), FINI is a wonderful opportunity to increase access to fruits and vegetables for Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients.

Established under the 2014 Farm Bill, FINI provides grants to organizations that help SNAP recipients purchase fruits and vegetables—healthy foods that are vastly under consumed—through incentive subsidies. For example, a farmers’ market could offer vouchers to SNAP recipients that double the value of their benefits when redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market.

A past UCS report has shown that the nation could save billions if Americans ate more fruits and vegetables. If Americans consumed just one additional serving of fruits or vegetables a day, the nation would save $5 billion in healthcare expenditures related to cardiovascular diseases alone. Even better, if Americans eat a full 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily, as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, it could save $17 billion in cardiovascular-disease related medical costs. An apple a day could save us billions, but for many in low-income communities, healthy fruits and vegetables aren’t always available.

“Poor nutrition is one of the most costly challenges our society confronts—yet it’s entirely preventable,” said Jeffrey O’Hara, agricultural economist with the Food & Environment Program. “It’s encouraging to see this public investment increase access to healthy food for low-income Americans.”

To apply for FINI, applicants are required to secure matching funding from other sources. A UCS factsheet on the benefits of FINI explains how hospitals and health insurers can work with farmers markets or other retail food establishments through programs like FINI to increase access to healthy produce for hospital patients and the surrounding community.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.