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USDA Awards $34.3 Million to Support Communities' Local Foods Infrastructure, Increase Access to Fruits and Vegetables

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today helped to kick off the nation's harvest season by announcing nearly $35 million in new funding through four grant programs to support local and regional food systems, including farmers markets. Secretary Vilsack has named strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA's efforts to revitalize rural economies and communities. Purchases of locally-produced food have surged to nearly $12 billion under Secretary Vilsack's leadership, while the number of farmers markets has exploded to more than 8,500 from 5,274 in 2009.

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SNAP Benefit Redemptions through Farmers and Farmers Markets Show Sharp Increase

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants are spending more of their benefits to make purchases at roadside farm stands, farmers markets and directly from local farmers than ever before. SNAP redemptions at those outlets in FY14 totaled $18.8 million, a nearly six-fold increase since 2008. Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon will laud the increase during a visit today to Philadelphia’s Clark Park Farmers Market.

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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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Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Joins USDA Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will become the 52nd state agency to operate the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. The program is part of USDA's efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of seniors, ensuring that all older Americans have access to healthy food.