The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just made a big commitment to promoting healthy eating, awarding $16.8 million in grants to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.
SNAP, which used to be known as the Food Stamp Program, provides low-income people and their families with purchasing assistance for food. SNAP also offers nutrition assistance to its participants, giving them access to resources which help them make healthy diet choices.
The new grants from the USDA will help SNAP participants buy more fruits and vegetables. The grants will help fund a variety of community-based projects and create incentives for healthy eating.
The funds will be split between pilot projects lasting less than one year, multi-year community-based projects, and multi-year large-scale projects.
SNAP creates connections and partnerships with local food producers (such as farmers), farmers markets, and organic growers. SNAP creates incentives for people to purchase their food from these sources. For instance, SNAP has previously matched dollar-for-dollar any purchase made from certain farmers markets. Healthy incentives like this allow participants to buy more locally grown and organic foods.
In 2015, SNAP was responsible for assisting 4.7 million Americans and keeping them out of poverty, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Almost half of SNAP participants are children, and 42 percent of participants live in homes where the income being earned is not enough to purchase food.
The USDA funds will also benefit local food producers, encouraging people to purchase from them and making their locally based businesses more sustainable.
While SNAP does help people and their families with assistance, many of these participants are only using the program temporality, after setbacks in their career or finances. In fact, new participants in SNAP only stay in the program for one year on average.
With the new funds from the USDA, SNAP will only be more effective at encouraging healthy eating among low-income families, which often have poorer diets than their wealthier counterparts.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces $16.8 Million in Grants to Encourage Healthy Food Purchases for SNAP Participants,” USDA web site, June 08, 2016; http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2016/06/0143.xml&contentidonly=true, last accessed June 11, 2016.
“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” USDA web site, http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap, last accessed June 11, 2016.