Waterbury, CT - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the allocation of $75 million in funding from the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriation Act to the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentives Program (GusNIP), and a key change to the current Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Request for Applications. The $75 million will be exclusively available for current GusNIP grantees, who can utilize grants to build upon their programs to address pandemic relief and respond to community needs in an impactful, timely, and authentic way. The current Request for Applications (RFA) will be extended two weeks and amended to reflect that state matching requirements are not a requirement for eligibility, but a priority. This is significant for Connecticut, whose current GusNIP grant is nearing an end and was at risk of terminating participation at the end of current grants.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations, advocated directly to USDA to ensure that Connecticut SNAP recipients and farmers markets, and their regional partners in Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine could continue to participate in the program. Last week, Hayes lead a delegation letter to USDA requesting changes to the current RFA which would ensure Connecticut’s continued participation. The entire CT federal delegation joined the letter.

“I am so pleased to see USDA has responded to concerns from states like Connecticut to ensure the ability to continue bolstering access of SNAP recipient’s to fresh, local fruits and vegetables,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “This is no time to limit the strength of SNAP dollars. The announced funding and changes to the 2021 Request for Applications will allow Connecticut to expand an already successful program, reach more recipients, work with more vendors, and combat the rampant food insecurity ravaging Connecticut communities.”

“The SNAP doubling program has been incredibly successful here in Connecticut helping both our families access fresh, local produce and our farmers to increase their markets,” said Robin Lamott Sparks, Executive Director of End Hunger Connecticut. “During COVID-19, the program has been even more important to help our families in need. A special thanks to Representative Hayes and our entire Connecticut delegation for recognizing the importance of this program and fighting to ensure its continuation.  Here at End Hunger Connecticut!, we are busy preparing for the summer and hope to increase the number of vendors and Community Supported Agriculture programs participating in the near future.”

GusNIP, formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, supports programs that provide nutrition incentives or produce prescriptions to stretch SNAP dollars and help families bring home more nutritious fruits and vegetables. These projects have a positive effect on local farmers and grocery store owners through an increase in sales and expansion of their customer base, consumers through improvements in diet, food security and health, and local economies.

According to the latest available data, there are over 360,000 SNAP participants eligible for the program in Connecticut, and 25 markets that will be participating in GusNIP this summer.

USDA’s release on the announcement can be found here: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/04/13/usda-invests-more-330-million-specialty-crops-grants-incentives.