Wholesome Wave Receives $3.77 Million Grant from United States Department of Agriculture for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program Benefiting Food Insecure Americans, Local and Regional Farmers
For Immediate Release
(Bridgeport, CT) - In an announcement today by Secretary Tom Vilsack of the US Department of Agriculture, Wholesome Wave received a $3.77 million grant from the USDA through the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program. With the required matching funds contributed by Wholesome Wave and partners, the funds represent a $7.4 million commitment to affordable food access. This three-year grant will support expansion of Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs, increasing affordable access of fruits and vegetables for more than 110,000 SNAP consumers in 17 states and DC, establishing a minimum of 177 new incentive programs at direct-to-consumer outlets, while simultaneously benefiting more than 3,400 small and mid-sized farm businesses.
Wholesome Wave’s grant is one of many announced as part of the larger $31.5 million allocated for the FINI grant program this year, a significant stride taken by the government to empower our nation’s most food insecure to make healthy food choices. “It is an honor for Wholesome Wave to be awarded such a significant grant from the USDA. This funding will build the capacity of nearly three-dozen community based organizations in 17 states and D.C. to provide incentives for fruit and vegetable purchases for SNAP consumers and their families. It also supports a rigorous evaluation of incentives’ impact on fruit and vegetable purchase and consumption. I look forward to seeing the tremendous impact this funding will have in the lives of SNAP consumers and farmers,” says Wholesome Wave Founder and CEO, Michel Nischan.
Specifically, Wholesome Wave’s FINI Large-Scale Project will build the capacity of 32 sub-grantee community-based organizations that operate over 425 nutrition incentive programs in order to sustain their programs beyond the three-year FINI project, as well as to increase the number of SNAP consumers participating in incentive programs and the amount of SNAP dollars spent on healthy fruits and vegetables. Wholesome Wave’s project will also contribute to the evidence base on the impact of incentive programs. Using a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) research design, Wholesome Wave will conduct the first RCT on incentive programs, measuring the impact of selected incentive program innovations on SNAP consumers’ purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
In addition to receiving a $3.77 million grant for its Large-Scale project, Wholesome Wave is being allocated an additional $750,000 through its role as the sub-grantee on four additional FINI grant projects. Through a new partnership with the AARP Foundation, Wholesome Wave will serve as a technical assistance partner to provide capacity building expertise, as well as branding, marketing and outreach assistance for SNAP incentive programs in Mississippi and Tennessee. In Florida, Wholesome Wave will expand its RCT evaluation to 12 additional farmers market sites through a continued partnership with Florida Certified Organic Growers (FOG). Utilizing its retail and food hub experience, Wholesome Wave will also serve as a technical assistance provider to Green Mountain Farm-to-School (VT) and Maine Farmland Trust (ME), as both groups work to deploy SNAP incentives at retail grocery outlets and aggregated CSA’s, respectively.
“This USDA SNAP nutrition incentive award is a watershed moment for me and my colleagues at Wholesome Wave. This initiative will provide our vulnerable seniors, disabled veterans, working poor and children on SNAP with the opportunity to access healthy, local fruits and vegetables provided by hardworking family farmers. I especially want to commend the leadership at USDA, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Chairman Frank Lucas, and the NIFA Advisory Committee who expeditiously reviewed grant applications. Funding was ensured in a timely manner, especially for the upcoming 2015 farmers market season,” says Gus Schumacher, Wholesome Wave Vice President.
Since 2008, Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs has been increasing fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP consumers at direct-to-consumer markets. Today, Wholesome Wave’s network extends to work with nearly 80 community-based organizations at more than 500 direct-to-consumer markets in 31 states and D.C. Wholesome Wave facilitates and builds capacity for a national network of SNAP nutrition incentive programs, connecting and supporting healthy food practitioners across the country. Its network is a robust community of innovation and learning, linking incentive programs through uniform data collection and evaluation to support the expansion and adoption of incentives through policy. Subgrantees on Wholesome Wave’s FINI grant project include: Heirloom Farmers Markets (AZ); Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, CSA Program (Washington, D.C.); Wholesome Wave Georgia (GA); Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (HI); Abita Springs Farmers Market (LA); Maine Farmland Trust (ME); Webb City Farmers Market (MO); Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (MO); No More Empty Pots (NE); On the Ranch Farmers Market (NV); New Hampshire Food Bank (NH); City Green (NJ); The City of Jersey City (NJ); Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga (OH); Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County (OH); Special Improvements District Public Services Association (OH); Fair Food Philly (PA); Farm Fresh Rhode Island (RI); NOFA-VT (VT); Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture (VA); Arlington Farmers Market (VA); Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA); Blacksburg Friends of the Farmers Market (VA); Fairfax County Park Authority (VA); Four Mile Run Farmers Market (VA); FRESHFARM Markets, Inc. (VA); Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) Inc. (VA); Old Town Farmers Market (VA); The Farmers Market.Co (VA); Williamsburg Farmers Market (VA); Fondy Food Center (WI); Eastern Area Health Education Center (WV).