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USDA Boosts Healthy Food Access, Sets New Standards for SNAP Retailers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced final changes to increase access to healthy food choices for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The provisions in this rule require SNAP authorized retail establishments to offer a larger inventory and variety of healthy food options. 

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USDA Releases First-Ever Web-Based School Meals Application Prototype

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) introduced its first ever web-based school meals program application prototype to streamline the process of applying for school meals and improve the user experience. The prototype – which combines research-based best practices, feedback from application users, and innovative user-experience design solutions submitted via a USDA-administered public contest – is specifically designed to address common issues and minimize the potential for errors in the application process.

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USDA Seeks Applications for Next Round of Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of up to $16.7 million in competitive grant funding to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by families and households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The funding will be awarded to eligible nonprofits and governmental organizations through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

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USDA Celebrates Progress during National School Lunch Week and Farm to School Month

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joins youth, parents, schools, communities, and partners across the country in honoring National School Lunch Week 2016, as proclaimed by President Obama, a time to reflect on the positive steps our nation has taken to make nutrition a priority in every U.S. school. This also coincides with the month-long celebration of Farm to School Month, which recognizes efforts to bring local foods into schools and onto students' trays.

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USDA Awards $2 Million in Grants to Support WIC Participation through Age 5

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service today awards nearly $2 million in funding to six states and territories to help improve retention of children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. These funds will enable WIC state agencies to better fulfill their  crucial role in ensuring young children up to age five have a foundation for nutritional success.

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USDA Seeks Retailer Volunteers for SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking retailer volunteers for a two-year, nationwide pilot to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants to purchase their groceries online. The 2014 Farm Bill mandated a pilot be conducted to test the possibility of allowing retail food stores to accept SNAP benefits through online transactions. Up to five retailers in three states will be selected for this pilot and, once selected, the pilot is slated to begin next summer after the EBT processor completes system development work to allow for online transactions.

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USDA Awards Grants to Boost Access to Farmers Market, Nutritious Foods for SNAP Participants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced more than $500,000 in grants to academic and nonprofit organizations who will work to make farmers markets and farm stands more accessible to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. Farmers markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables to SNAP participants and support local rural economies. Since 2008, the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers has grown dramatically, to more than 7,000 – over nine times the number that were around at the start of this Administration. In Fiscal Year 2015 alone, SNAP redemptions accounted for over $19 million at farmers markets.

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USDA Announces $6.7 million in Grants for Child Care & Schools during the Back to School Season

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service today awarded $6.7 million in grants during the back to school season to expand and enhance training for school nutrition and child care professionals working to support healthy environments for our nation’s youth. Fourteen state agencies were given awards – eight working toward improving school nutrition through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and six focusing on nutrition at facilities participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

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USDA Announces Selected Organizations to Better Connect Low-Income Elderly and Disabled Americans with Healthy Food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the organizations selected to participate in a nationwide pilot designed to improve access to groceries for homebound elderly and disabled persons participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly one in five SNAP participants is either elderly or disabled and therefore may face unique obstacles to obtaining healthy food at the grocery store.

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USDA Awards Grants to Improve SNAP Processing, Technology

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) today awarded $5 million in grants to state agencies and community-based organizations to improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and implement modernization initiatives. Organizations from seven states were selected for these competitive grants, including Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, California, and Washington. 

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Substance Misuse Prevention Resources for Low Income Pregnant Women and Mothers In Order to Battle the Opioid Epidemic

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged all State Health Officers to use the resources and opportunities provided through their Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agencies in their substance misuse prevention efforts. Vilsack made this announcement at a town hall in Missouri to discuss the opioid epidemic, which accounted for more than 28,000 deaths nationwide in 2014.

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USDA Announces Additional Efforts to Make School Environments Healthier

Today, the Obama Administration is announcing four final rules that implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) building on the progress schools across the country have already made in the improved nutritional quality of meals served in schools. As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.

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USDA Increases Assistance to Flint Families with Delivery of Nutritious Food Packages

Today Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide extra nutrition support to Flint, Michigan to help low-income residents affected by lead contamination in the city’s water.  In response to a request from the state, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will provide additional food to recipients of The Emergency Food Assistance Program in the Flint area to help address the ongoing crisis.  

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces $16.8 Million in Grants to Encourage Healthy Food Purchases for SNAP Participants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded $16.8 million in competitive grants to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables. The funding comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Joins Education Secretary King and Virginia First Lady McAuliffe to Celebrate National Summer Meal Programs Kick-Off

Today,  Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. joined students and other stakeholders at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Petersburg, Virginia to celebrate the start of the USDA summer meal programs. The two secretaries were joined by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Virginia's Secretary of Education Anne Holton to raise awareness of the importance and availability of summer meals for children and teens.

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USDA Publishes Guide to Help Convenience Stores Sell Healthier Foods

Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced a new publication that will help enhance access to healthy foods for residents of low-income neighborhoods. The Healthy Corner Stores Guide provides information, strategies, and resources for organizations interested in making healthy foods and beverages available in corner stores within their communities.

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Report Shows Monthly Summer EBT Benefit Reduces Food Insecurity in Children, Improves Nutrition

Results of USDA's report posted today on the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) demonstration project confirm a significant reduction in food insecurity among participating families. The project tested two benefit levels – $30 and $60 per month per child – both of which were found to reduce the most severe form of food insecurity and led to positive nutritional outcomes.

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USDA Makes Funds Available to State Agencies to Help Keep Young Children in WIC

U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon today announced that approximately $2 million in grants is available to help state agencies retain young children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program through age 5. Young children are vulnerable to a wide of variety of nutrition-related problems that can impair their development and growth, making WIC a crucial part of ensuring young children have a foundation for nutritional success. 

The Communications Division coordinates public and media communications for the USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services mission area. For media inquiries, please contact FNSpress@usda.gov or 703-305-2281.