Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program provides grants on a competitive basis to projects that help low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives that increase their purchasing power at locations like farmers markets. Increasing low-income communities’ abilities to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables not only helps to improve the health of families, but also expands economic opportunities for farmers. The Program was first established in the 2014 Farm Bill with $100 million in funding. In the 2018 Farm Bill the program was expanded to $250 million and named after former FMC board member and tireless advocate, Gus Schumacher.
In 2015, FINI funded farmers markets distributed $3 million in nutrition incentives and $5 million in SNAP benefits at farmers markets in both rural and urban communities. These benefits funded the purchase of tens of millions of additional servings of fruits and vegetables. Early research indicates that participants are consuming greater quantities of a wider range of vegetables and fruit and in so doing improving their diets. FINI’s impact was remarkable given the infrastructure and logistics required to offer farmers market SNAP incentives on a national level. In 2015 incentives were offered to SNAP shoppers at almost one in eight farmers markets in the United States. These markets successfully processed 200,000 SNAP transactions.
At a time of low farm prices and intense pressure from cheap imports, these transactions represent a real source of income for at least 4,000 farmers in 27 states. According the to the Ecology Center, “73.9% [of farmers participating in Market Match] report making more money, and 82.6% report having more customers” and 38.6% report “increasing the scope of their operations by planting more acres, buying equipment, building greenhouses or hoop houses, or hiring more workers.”
Learn more about the outcomes of the first year of FINI funded programs at farmers market in FMC’s report: Year One of the USDA FINI Program: Incentivizing the Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables Among SNAP Customers at the Farmers Market. Special thanks to all 2015 grantees that provided data for the report, and to Wholesome Wave for funding this initiative.
Congress created FINI in order to:
- Increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among SNAP participants by providing incentives at the point-of-sale.
- Test strategies of increasing SNAP participants’ purchase of fruit and vegetables from local farmers and ranchers;
- Develop efforts and develop safe and efficient benefit redemption technologies for farmers markets and direct marketing farmers.
Types of Grants: There are three grant categories based on project size and duration:
- FINI Pilot Projects (FPP): One-year grants up to $100,000;
- FINI Projects (FP): Grants of up to $500,000 total over a period up to four years;
- FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP): Grants of at least $500,000 total over a period up to four years
Eligibility: Nonprofit and government agencies, including individual farmers’ markets, state associations, and affiliated nonprofits are eligible to apply for the grants. For-profit food retailers may participate in incentive programs but may not be the lead organization that receives the federal grant.
Match: Every proposal requires a $1:$1 match. This can be provided through state government, local government, or private sources; cash and/or in-kind contributions, including facilities, equipment, or services. The non-federal share of the funding may come from. Federal money cannot be used to match.
Requirements: Applicants must propose projects that:
- Have the state SNAP agency’s support and commitment to cooperate with the project;
- Provide point-of-sale incentives that increase the purchase of produce among SNAP participants;
- Operate with SNAP authorized retailers and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements regarding retailers and customer treatment;
- Participate in a comprehensive national evaluation, as well as conduct an individual project evaluation ;
- Include benefit redemption technologies that can be replicated elsewhere.
SNAP incentive programs draw more SNAP participants to shop at markets, increase participants’ fruit and vegetable consumption, and enhance local economies.