WASHINGTON, November 22, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced an investment of $59.4 million to support the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) nutrition and product prescription incentive programs designed to encourage families and individuals to eat healthier by improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This investment responds to a commitment made in the Biden-Harris administration’s National Hunger, Nutrition and Health Strategy to improve access to healthy and affordable food.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, visited the Takoma Park Silver Spring Cooperative (TPSS) in Takoma Park, Maryland. Crossroads Community Food Network, in partnership with TPSS, receives funding through this program to launch “year-round fresh checks” to expand access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in the Takoma/Langley community Crossroads, a mostly immigrant neighborhood just outside of Washington, D.C. Over the course of the project, 3,000 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) users are expected to spend $450,000, which will be matched with 450 $000 in incentives ($250,000 from federal funds and $200,000 from state and local matching dollars).

“Partners such as Crossroads Community Food Network, Inc., are invaluable to USDA’s nutrition security efforts,” said Jacobs-Young. “By understanding the lived experiences of their community, they help put USDA programs in the hands of the people who need them most.”

GusNIP programs strive to improve dietary health through increased consumption of fresh produce, improve individual and household food security, and reduce health care utilization and associated costs. GusNIP Nutrition Incentive Programs provide point-of-sale incentives to income-eligible consumers participating in USDA’s SNAP program and income-eligible consumers participating in other USDA nutrition assistance programs. Produce Prescriptions leverages medical assistance programs to provide “prescriptions” from a health care provider for fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Since its inception in 2019, GusNIP projects have improved access to healthy food, and this investment helps ensure that even more consumers can provide locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to their families,” said Dr. Dionne Toombs, acting director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the entity that administers the awards. “In fact, with additional funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, NIFA is expanding its reach to many new program applicants from nationally underrepresented communities.”

Forty-three awards represent a $20.7 million investment in the Produce Prescription Program with funding from the USDA’s U.S. GusNIP bailout. Of the 43 Exercise Prescription Program 22 submissions awarded, 95% are first-time applicants to the GusNIP Product Prescription Program, and 60% are new entrants across NIFA. In addition, $38.7 million will support eight GusNIP nutrition incentive projects.

In addition to Crossroads Community Food Network, Inc., the following are examples of funded projects:

  • The Keya Foundation, Inc., in Timber Lake, South DakotaThe Produce Prescription program will serve the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The project will address a pressing need in Native American communities to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and promote optimal cardio-metabolic health for families with school-aged children.
  • Kahuku Medical Center in Kahuku, Hawaiiaims to fill gaps in accessibility and affordability of nutritious locally grown fruits and vegetables for low-income people at risk of or diagnosed with a chronic nutrition-related illness using a collaborative approach to improve health outcomes among those most at risk, while developing economic opportunities and agricultural infrastructure for local food producers.
  • The Farmers Market Fund in Portland, Oregon, will expand its Double up Food Bucks program to more outlets, allowing SNAP participants to increase their purchases of local fruits and vegetables. Attendees at 80 farmers’ markets, 10 farm stands, 45 grocery stores and 40 community-supported agriculture models in 34 of Oregon’s 36 counties will receive a dollar-for-dollar incentive at the point of purchase in 2023 and 2024.

By bringing together stakeholders from diverse parts of the food and health care systems, GusNIP projects help foster understanding to improve the health and nutrition status of participating households, facilitate growth in underrepresented communities, and collect and aggregate data to identify and improve best practices on a large scale.

The Biden-Harris administration’s national strategy provides a roadmap of actions the federal government will take to end hunger and reduce diet-related disease by 2030, while reducing disparities. The national strategy was released in conjunction with the first White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health in more than 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.


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