USDA nutrition incentives improve access to healthy food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced an investment of more than $52 million to improve dietary health and access to fresh fruits and vegetables for eligible families.

The funds support efforts across three National Institute of Food and Agriculture competitive grant programs that make up the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program. The program is named in honor of the former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (1997 to 2001).

“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.”

GusNIP’s three grant programs include Nutrition Incentive, Produce Prescription and the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation and Information 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 more than $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.”

Nineteen awardees are receiving GusNIP Nutrition Incentive 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.

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.

One awardee is receiving $7 million through the NTAE Center program. NTAE projects offer training, technical assistance, evaluation and informational support services.

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