The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) is increasing the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers, in turn improving the health and nutrition of participating households.
Named in honor of the former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (1997-2001), GusNIP funding opportunities come in three types:
- Nutrition Incentive grants increase produce purchase by consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by providing incentives at the point of purchase.
- Produce Prescription grants offer incentive prescriptions of fresh produce in addition to nutrition educational opportunities.
- Cooperative Agreements offer training, technical assistance, evaluation and informational support services.
GusNIP has been increasing access to healthy foods since its creation in the 2014 Farm Bill. Some recent impacts include:
- Kentucky’s Fresh Rx for MOMS program is positively impacting health outcomes for limited-income expectant mothers by providing “produce prescriptions,” which are tokens that can be spent on locally grown produce. Said one participant, “It has helped us have fresh meals when we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.” The initiative also is helping local farmers build relationships with their customers while increasing sales. “Fresh Rx allows us to build relationships,” said a participating farmer. “More families get access to the best local food, and it puts more money in the pockets of local farmers. It’s a win-win.”
- Double Up Food Bucks Mississippi (DUFBM) provides a dollar-for-dollar match on the purchase of fruits and vegetables for SNAP participants at 30 locations throughout the state. For every $1 spent with SNAP benefits, shoppers get an additional $1 to spend on their next produce purchase, up to $20. “I am able to purchase so much more fresh produce now, so I can provide healthier meals for my family,” said participant Brigitte Beall. “I can experiment with new recipes, educate my kids and protect my husband's health. DUFBM allows my family to survive.”
- Produce Perks Midwest, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based nonprofit, teamed with Western Reserve University to increase the availability of FM Tracks, an app and website used at more than 1,000 farmers markets in 30 states and the District of Columbia to makes it easier for local markets to offer GusNIP nutrition incentives. The technology is allowing market staff to save time and improve market operations.