WASHINGTON-The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced plans to invest $69 million in critical food and nutrition security needs.

The agency will target low-income communities that have been affected by the pandemic. It also plans to enhance the resilience of food and healthcare systems impacted in the last 18 months and maximize funds that reach participants.

The USDA announced 20 awards totaling $61.5 million for Nutrition Incentive Grants and 15 awards of $7.5 million for Produce Prescription Grants. These grants are all part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program COVID Relief and Response (GusCRR) grants program.

“Bolstering nutrition security is one of our top goals in this Administration,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The awards we are announcing today will help households in communities across the country – many hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic challenges – be better equipped to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables. The organizations receiving this funding have demonstrated their ability to support vulnerable Americans with timely and impactful relief during this ongoing crisis.”

Examples of organizations funded for Nutrition Incentive Grants include:

  • Wholesome Wave Georgia for its “Georgia Fresh for Less” program, providing over $3.6 million in fresh, local produce to Georgia’s food-insecure families. ($646,781)
  • The Food Basket, Inc., Hawai’i Island’s Food Bank, for “DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks” program, pioneering nutrition incentives to increase the purchase of Hawai’i grown produce among SNAP beneficiaries. ($5,000,000)
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture’s “California Nutrition Incentive Program” will empower state SNAP shoppers to purchase more fresh, healthy foods, increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and improve their food security and health outcomes while recovering from the pandemic and economic crisis. ($6,325,464)
  • Fair Food Network, Michigan will increase the reach and availability of "Double Up Food Bucks" to low-income communities in areas of the state hardest hit by the pandemic, and bring an additional $3.75M in fruits and vegetables to the tables of Michigan families across the two years of this grant. ($4,997,950)

Examples of organizations funded for Produce Prescription Grants include:

  • Fresh Approach of Concord, Calif., for its “Trauma-Informed VeggieRX” program to increase access to and consumption of healthy foods among low-income populations. ($129,019)
  • Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) of Whitesburg, Ky., for its “MCHC FARMACY” program to provide SNAP participants extra incentives to purchase fresh produce. ($619,681)
  • Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment Program, Inc., of Gallup, NM., for its “Navajo Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program” to address rising food security needs among Navajo individuals and enhance food and health care systems in the Navajo Region. ($647,027)

More information can be found about the NIFA’s research investments here.