Connecting All Americans with Healthy, Safe, Affordable Food
USDA is expanding access to and increasing consumption of safe, healthy, affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being. Improving what Americans eat significantly reduces diet-related chronic diseases and disparities. Ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe and properly labeled helps to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Promoting and supporting fruit and vegetable consumption
- Mothers, Infants, and Young Children
- In FY 2021, the American Rescue Plan temporarily increased the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) monthly cash-value benefit for fruits and vegetables to $35 for women and children. The increased benefit has been extended through appropriations, with amounts of $25 for children, $44 for women who are pregnant or postpartum, and $49 for women who are fully and partially breastfeeding in fiscal year 2023. Through rulemaking, USDA is proposing the make this increase permanent, adjusted annually for inflation. This boost–—which is substantially higher than the previous amounts of $9 for children and $11 for women—increases the purchasing power of WIC participants so they can buy and consume more healthy fruits and vegetables.
- USDA published a Request for Applications (RFA) and awarded $1.9 million to 11 State agencies for the FY 2022 WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) Benefit Delivery Modernization Grants. This competitive grant opportunity uses funding provided in the American Rescue Plan for WIC outreach, innovation and program modernization, including: (1) increasing enrollment and retaining participants for the full length of their eligibility; and (2) reducing disparities in program delivery. The goal of this grant opportunity is to support State agencies—including Tribal nations and U.S. territories—in implementing an available and tested electronic, mobile WIC FMNP solution. Such solutions will modernize benefit delivery for WIC FMNP State agencies, participants, farmers, and farmers’ markets, and increase WIC benefit utilization at farmers’ markets. Additional funding opportunities will be announced in Fiscal Year 2023.
- School-Age Children
- The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) provides free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at eligible elementary schools during the school day along with nutrition education. The program introduces kids to a variety of produce they otherwise might not have the opportunity to try. Students at schools that participate in FFVP consume approximately one-third of a cup more fruits and vegetables on FFVP days than their peers at schools not participating in FFVP. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service provided more than $230 million to State agencies to support FFVP in FY 2022.
- All Life Stages
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) teaching gardens help participants learn how to grow, cook, and store fruits and vegetables. As one example, the Live Healthy Houma community garden donated more than 500 pounds of fresh produce to Louisiana families experiencing food insecurity.
- Through a cooperative agreement, the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) provides farmers one year of free access to a mobile application that allows them to accept SNAP EBT payments on their smart device.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is working with the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMP) to bring low-cost online SNAP purchasing and payment to farmers who market directly to consumers.
- Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service conduct research to understand why people do or don’t eat fruits and vegetables at various ages. Some studies focus on underserved and at-risk populations. This research can help inform efforts to encourage healthy eating.
- USDA provides domestically produced and processed agricultural products to schools, food banks and households through USDA Foods programs. The majority of USDA Foods are purchased federally through a competitive process managed by the Agricultural Marketing Service. In addition, a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased and made available through the USDA DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
- The Transportation and Marketing Program supports the transportation of agricultural products, local and regional food systems, and increasing consumer access to fresh, healthy foods throughout the U.S. and abroad. These programs, grants, and services help small- and mid-sized producers with marketing opportunities through the combination of applied research, technical assistance, and financial support.
Using incentive programs to promote access to healthy eating
- School-Age Children
- USDA is investing $100 million in the Healthy Meals Incentive initiative, a multipronged approach to K-12 food system transformation. The goal is to create a resilient, equitable and nutritious school food system by incentivizing healthier school meals; challenging industry to develop and provide healthy offerings; and recognizing program operators and partners that are innovative in their school meals business models. USDA’s investment will also serve as a platform for private and nonprofit funders to support the initiative’s goals
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Turnip the Beet Awards recognize outstanding summer meal program sponsors, who work hard to offer high quality, appetizing, and nutritious meals to children during the summer months.
- All Life Stages
- USDA helps SNAP authorized stores offer incentives that encourage SNAP recipients to purchase healthier foods. Per the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, incentivized food must be a staple food or food product that is consistent with the most recent dietary recommendations, such as a carton of milk or fresh fruit. Retailers that are not part of a GusNIP project must get a SNAP equal treatment waiver from FNS.
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive (HFMI) project uses incentives to encourage people to buy and drink more milk. Through HFMI projects, shoppers using SNAP benefits to purchase milk at participating grocery stores will receive a coupon for additional free milk or SNAP eligible foods, or a discount on their milk purchase at the point-of-sale. FNS will conduct a process evaluation of the pilot results.
- The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in collaboration with FNS administers the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). This program was modeled after earlier SNAP “double-up-bucks” programs. The success of GusNIP has led to state-funded incentives with similar goals. The findings from year two show that participants redeemed more than $20 million dollars in nutrition incentives and produce prescriptions distributed by GusNIP and the program generated an economic impact of about $41 million dollars. In addition, participants reported greater fruit and vegetable intake and improvements in food security.
- The USDA Rural Development Healthy Food Financing Initiative helps retailers overcome higher costs and initial barriers to selling healthy foods in areas with inequitable access. Through the program’s National Fund Manager, USDA has deployed $27 million in grants to 164 projects in 47 states across the country. The program has created or retained more than 1,378 permanent jobs and delivered 730,825 square feet of brick and mortar space to sell, store, or distribute food for underserved areas.
Providing healthy foods directly to people in need
- All Life Stages
- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutritious, 100 percent domestic USDA Foods for use in several nutrition assistance programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and school meal programs. FNS helps participants select and use the healthy options provided by these programs through a wide range of educational products, such as culturally appropriate recipes, information sheets, and resource libraries.
- The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is developing a new and improved approach to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry. FSIS also continues to implement a data-driven regulatory strategy to improve pathogen control in raw meat and processing.
- The Food Safety Outreach Program develops and implements Food Safety Modernization Act training, education, outreach and technical assistance for food processors and farmers with small to mid-size operations.