USDA selects groups to help boost produce consumption

November 6, 2019

Source: The Packer
Author: Tom Karst

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has tabbed the Center for Nutrition and Health Impact and Fair Food Network to help develop and evaluate nutrition incentive programs supporting increased fruit and vegetable purchases for food stamp recipients.

The organizations will lead a four-year effort to provide evaluation, training and technical assistance nationwide for nutrition incentive programs that support families in bringing home more nutritious fruits and vegetables, according to a news release.

Nutrition incentives include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, as well as produce prescriptions, both aimed at increasing the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers.

The USDA said the Center for Nutrition and Health Impact will serve as the lead evaluator overseeing reporting and measurement, while the Fair Food Network will provide training and technical assistance.

“We are excited to be heading up such a dynamic and experienced team for this new national evaluation and technical assistance work,” Amy Yaroch, executive director at the Swanson Center, said in the release. “We look forward to being able to demonstrate the impact of nutrition incentive and fruit and vegetable prescription programs in the U.S.”

The Swanson Center and the Fair Food Network has a coalition of partners and experts to provide support, according to the release. That group includes the University of Minnesota Center for Farm Financial Management, National Grocers Association, Farmers Market Coalition, Ecology Center and Michigan Farmers Market Association.

“The adoption of nutrition incentive programs has been incredible,” Kate Krauss, Fair Food Network executive director and chief operating officer, said in the release. “Within a decade, efforts have grown from a handful of pilots to a permanent part of the farm bill with programs in all 50 states. We are excited to help continue this growth to benefit even more families and farmers.”

First published in The Packer on November 6, 2019.