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New Report Shows Farm to School Grants Have Increased Likelihood that 6.9 Million Kids Will Eat More Healthy Food at School, Created New Local Market Opportunities for Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a new report that shows that USDA's Farm to School Grant Program, established and funded through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, has helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. Recent studies published in Childhood Obesity and Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior indicate that strong farm to school programs can impact consumption of fruits and vegetables, leading to reductions in plate waste.

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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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USDA Statement on SNAP Access at Farmers Markets

In response to the recent news about access to farmers markets for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps offers the following statement:

" The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) was recently informed by a major provider of mobile EBT technology for farmers markets and farm stands that it will discontinue this service. With few providers in this marketplace, this is of great concern.

Farmers markets play an important role in providing Americans with access to nutritious foods. FNS is committed to encouraging farmers market participation in SNAP, to improve access for low income Americans while supporting economic opportunities for farmers and producers.

Since being notified of the provider’s decision to discontinue service, USDA has been exploring all available options in an attempt to avoid a service disruption. Our number one goal is to mitigate the impact on our program participants as well as farmers and producers."

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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.