A northwest Washington nonprofit organization has received a four-year, $488,758 federal grant to encourage people receiving federal food assistance to eat more fruits and vegetables, the USDA announced Monday.
Viva Farms in Skagit County will use some of the money to subsidize purchases of locally grown produce. People on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also will receive information about nutrition and cooking.
The grant was one of 32, totaling $16.8 million, awarded nationwide through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program. “These grants help provide low-income families with the resources they need to consume more nutritious food,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a written statement. “At the same time, we’re also helping to strengthen local and regional food systems.”
Viva Farms received one of the larger grants and was the only organization in Washington to receive one.
In Oregon, Village Gardens received a one-year $94,566 grant to help low-income residents in North Portland buy fruits and vegetables in neighborhood stores. The grant’s goals also include promoting locally grown organic food and to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables through nutrition education, according to a summary of the grant’s purpose.
Viva Farms leases small plots of land to new farmers. Efforts to reach Viva Farms officials for comment were unsuccessful.
According to Viva Farms’ grant proposal, people on food assistance who buy two orders of fruits and vegetables in a month will receive two more orders in the second half of the month. By the end of four years, Viva Farms expects the program to be sustained by increasing sales of full-priced orders.
Viva Farms stated that it expects local farmers will increase sales and that some of the people receiving food assistance will learn about nutrition and cooking.
Several organizations in California received grants. The California Department of Food and Agriculture received the single-largest grant in the country, $3.9 million. Some of the money will subsidize the purchase of fruits and vegetables at farmers’ market.
No grant money was awarded to an Idaho organization.
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the grants. For the coming fiscal year, the USDA is expected to have $25 million to distribute to encourage people on federal food assistance to eat fruits and vegetables.