The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Nov. 13, 2023 an investment of over $50 million to improve dietary health and access to fresh fruits and vegetables for eligible families.
USDA says these grant funds assist the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) through three three National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) competitive grant programs. GusNIP is named in honor of the former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (1997 to 2001)[Gus Schumacher].
“USDA is delivering on its promise to bolster food and nutrition security for underserved communities,” said USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “Investments like this enable people to afford and eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables so they don’t have to make a choice between healthy eating and cheaper, less healthier options.”
According to the USDA, GusNIP’s three grant programs include Nutrition Incentive, Produce Prescription and the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation and Information (NTAE) Center. By bringing together stakeholders from various parts of the food and health care systems, GusNIP projects help foster understanding to improve the health and nutritional status of participating households, facilitate growth in underrepresented communities and geographies, and aggregate data to identify and improve best practices on a broad scale.
“GusNIP has provided over $270 million in funding to nearly 200 projects throughout the U.S. since its 2019 launch and participants are consistently reporting increased fruit and vegetable intake as a result,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit Misra. “This latest round of funding only strengthens the impacts these programs are having nationwide.”
The USDA shared the following breakdown of monies awarded through the program:
19 awardees are receiving GusNIP Nutrition Incentive (NI) funding totaling $41.8 million. NI projects increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by providing incentives at the point of purchase among income-eligible households participating in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
One awardee is receiving $7 million through the NTAE Center program. NTAE projects offer training, technical assistance, evaluation and informational support services.
Produce Prescription awards account for $5.2 million to 11 awardees. These projects demonstrate and evaluate the impact of fresh fruit and vegetable prescriptions. The goals of the program are to increase procurement and consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduce individual and household food insecurity and reduce health care use and associated costs.
More information about GusNIP is available at: https://tinyurl.com/5dxk7k2n