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More Than Half of High-Poverty Schools Now Offer Free Meals to all Students

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced that more than half of the nation’s high-poverty schools are now offering breakfasts and lunches to students at no cost through the new Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), made possible by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The provision improves access to nutritious meals for low-income students while reducing administrative burdens for households and schools.

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USDA Selects States for Participation in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables

Today USDA announced the selection of eight states to participate in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, as directed by the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. Under the pilot, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin will be able to increase their purchases of locally-grown fruits and vegetables for their school meal programs.

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USDA Announces New Support to Help Schools Purchase More Food from Local Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $5 million in grants for 82 projects spanning 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. The program helps schools purchase more food from local farmers and ranchers in their communities, expanding access to healthy local food for school children and supporting local economies. According to USDA's first-ever Farm to School Census released earlier this year, school districts participating in farm to school programs purchased and served over $385 million in local food in school year 2011-2012, with more than half of participating schools planning to increase their purchases of local food in the future.

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USDA Explores Cost Effective Ways to Improve Summer Food Access for Kids

Complementary programs that extend the reach of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) summer meal programs could help reduce childhood food insecurity during the summer, according to three studies released today by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The studies found that making enhancements to the traditional program, or utilizing alternate methods of reaching eligible children, could reach additional children and reduce childhood food insecurity during the summer to levels normally seen in the fall.

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USDA’s WIC Program Has Provided Nutrition Support for New Mothers, Young Children for Over 40 Years

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as the WIC Program. WIC was established in 1974 to reduce infant mortality and improve the health of our nation’s children. Today, the WIC program is considered one of the most successful, cost-effective and important nutrition intervention programs in the country. Each month WIC safeguards the health of approximately 8.25 million low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing supplemental food benefits, nutrition education, healthcare referrals, and breastfeeding promotion and support.

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USDA Awards Grants to Help States Cut Down on SNAP Benefit Trafficking

Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon today announced the release of just over $5 million in grant funds to identify, track, and prevent misuse of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by program recipients. These grants will particularly help state agencies reduce SNAP trafficking, primarily the exchange of benefits for cash or other goods or services.

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USDA Announces up to $31 Million to Empower People to Make Healthy Eating Choices

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is making up to $31.5 million in funding available to help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program more easily afford healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement with Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe in Richmond.

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USDA Awards Grants to Improve SNAP Processing and Enhance Employment and Training Programs

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced $5 million in grants to streamline processing, improve technology, and strengthen employment and training programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The competitively-awarded grants will fund 11 projects in seven states, improving efficiency in local SNAP programs.

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USDA Requests Applications for Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that up to $2.5 million is available to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center. This competitive grant is part of USDA's efforts to reduce childhood food insecurity in rural communities in America.

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Se Acerca la Fecha Límite para que los Detallistas del SNAP Paguen los Costos de Equipos para la EBT, tal como lo Requiere la Ley Agrícola

Tal como lo requirió el Congreso mediante la Ley Agrícola de 2014 (conocida en inglés como Farm Bill), los detallistas que están autorizados a aceptar los beneficios del programa Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program o SNAP deben solicitar y pagar sus propios equipos, suministros y servicios relacionados para la Trasferencia Electrónica de Beneficios (Electronic Benefit Transfer o EBT). Los funcionarios del USDA les recuerdan a los detallistas que deben tomar medidas hasta el 21 de septiembre inclusive, del contrario correrán el riesgo de no poder aceptar ni procesar los beneficios del SNAP o deberán pagar por servicios del proveedor de procesamiento que actualmente usa el estado.

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Deadline Approaching for SNAP Retailers to Pay EBT Equipment Costs, as Required by the Farm Bill

As required by Congress in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the Farm Bill), retailers already authorized to accept USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits must arrange and pay for their own Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) equipment, supplies, and related services.  USDA officials are reminding retailers that they must take action by September 21 or risk being unable to accept and process SNAP benefits, or be charged for services by the processing vendor currently used by the state.

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USDA Announces $200 Million to Promote Innovation in SNAP Employment and Training Programs

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that up to $200 million in competitive grants is available for state SNAP agencies to design and conduct employment and training (E&T) pilot projects to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants find jobs and increase their earnings. A portion of these funds will be used to fund an independent evaluation of the E&T pilots. The solicitation for the evaluation contract was also released today.

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SNAP Benefits Now Used to Purchase Local Food Directly from Farmers in More than 5,000 Locations

New U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers through more than 5,000 farmers markets, roadside markets and pick-your-own operations across America. The number of locations where SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food directly from farmers has increased five times since 2008, when there were just 753 such locations.  Also according to USDA data, SNAP participants are taking advantage of these opportunities, redeeming more than $21 million dollars at farmers’ markets and directly from farmers last year. Providing more places for SNAP participants to purchase food directly from local farmers boosts local economies, supports family farmers and helps create more access to healthy foods for SNAP participants, which can help reduce health problems and governmental health costs in the future. 

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USDA Seeks Public Input to Increase Transparency of SNAP Retailer Data

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public input concerning a proposal to provide more information to the public about the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits used by participants at individual grocery stores and retailers. USDA's goal is to provide as much transparency as possible on retailer data within the limits of the law. In doing so, USDA will consider input from a wide variety of stakeholders through a Request for Information (RFI) published today in the Federal Register. The RFI seeks public comment on several questions related to the transparency of SNAP retailer redemption information.

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USDA Releases Request for Applications for Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetable Pilot

Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon today announced the release of a Request for Applications from states interested in participating in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Under the pilot, up to eight states across five regions will be granted flexibility in using a portion of their USDA Foods entitlement dollars to purchase locally-grown unprocessed fruits and vegetables for the National School Lunch Program. 

USDA Announces $34 Million for Technology Improvements in WIC
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USDA Announces $34 Million for Technology Improvements in WIC

Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon today announced the release of nearly $34 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funds to WIC agencies in states, territories, and Indian tribal organizations in support of technology improvements in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). USDA works in partnership with state and local health agencies to provide supplemental foods, nutrition education, health referrals and breastfeeding support to over 8 million low-income women, infants and young children who are nutritionally at risk. The grants will be used to expand use of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems in WIC, as well as to replace and improve management information systems to promote greater efficiencies in WIC clinics. 

USDA Provides Grants to Help States Cut Down on SNAP Benefit Trafficking
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USDA Provides Grants to Help States Cut Down on SNAP Benefit Trafficking

Today Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced the availability of up to $7 million in grant funds to prevent recipient trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Through increased oversight and improvements in program management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to help states reduce SNAP trafficking, the exchange of benefits for cash or other goods or services. The grants announced today, which are a key component of USDA’s efforts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in SNAP, will be awarded competitively to state agencies.

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USDA Launches New Resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov to Help Cost-Conscious Consumers Make Healthier Food Choices

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled Healthy Eating on a Budget – the newest addition to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consumers continue to want more information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources. To meet this need, the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion developed the new resource to include easy-to-use and insightful information about planning meals, shopping smart in the grocery store, and preparing foods that save money and time in the kitchen.

The Communications Division coordinates public and media communications for the USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services mission area. For media inquiries, please contact FNSpress@usda.gov or 703-305-2281.