WASHINGTON, February 23, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a series of new initiatives aimed at helping communities increase food access by promoting coordination and partnerships between public, private and non-profit partners. USDA will be investing$4.98 million in grants to 14 communities in eight states to end hunger and improve the nutrition of low-income Americans. Authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, the grants fund research, planning, and activities designed to improve access to nutrition assistance for those in need.
"The Hunger-Free Communities Grants underscore the administration's priorities to both end hunger and promote healthier diets for every American," said Vilsack. "Our valued state and community partners are uniquely positioned to create and implement sustainable solutions to ending hunger."
The 14 Grantees are located in New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Maryland. The grants fund the development and implementation of plans to help communities expand access to healthy food through increased participation in federal nutrition programs and other creative initiatives that meet a community's unique needs. Among the grantees are:
Maryland Governor's Office for Children, Baltimore, Md., $923,812; This project will help Maryland increase participation in the National School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program that provides meals to hungry kids in the summer, and improve access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Centro del Obrero Fronterizo, Inc., El Paso, Texas, $110,065; This project will help South Central El Paso administer a culturally relevant nutrition education campaign for food service workers and families, strengthen partnerships and coordination among organizations, and help increase access to fresh, affordable foods for families in need.
United Way of King County, Seattle, Wash., $987,380; This project will focus on initiatives described in the Hunger Relief Now! Plan, and seeks to reduce hunger among low-income children, senior citizens, immigrants, and refugees.
United Way of New York City, New York City, NY, $2,000,000; This project will help increase participation in government and private nutrition assistance and anti-poverty programs for New York residents living below the poverty line.
Community Services Planning Council, Sacramento, Calif., $99,396; This project will help survey low income individuals to assess the extent, causes, and consequences of food insecurity in Sacramento County and develop an action plan that will move Sacramento County toward becoming a hunger free community.
In 2009, over 50 million individuals in the United States, or 16.6% of the population, lived in food insecure households. Children are most at risk. During the same time frame, over 17 million children lived in food insecure households. These homes had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during the year. The anti-hunger initiatives announced today, along with the Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger recently published on USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website, are all tools to help individuals and families put food on the table.
"The health and wellbeing of our nation is dependent on the health of our children," said Vilsack. "It's imperative that we make these critical investments in our children, our most vulnerable and valuable resource, to help them reach their full potential."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.
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