USDA offers $31.5M for healthier food stamp diet

A division of the Agriculture Department is making $31.5 million in funding available to help people on food stamps obtain healthier foods.

The department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is making the funding available to help those enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income Americans. 

"Too many struggling families do not have adequate access to nutritious food," Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas J. VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said Monday as he announced the new funding. "Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families' health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers.” 

The agency wants funded projects to examine how to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables, the department said, and the funding could subsidize pilot projects, multiyear community projects or large-scale multiyear proposals.

The funding stems from the farm bill Congress passed earlier this year, which created the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program. It combines funding for both fiscal 2014 and 2015.

Through the farm bill, Congress cut $8 billion from SNAP this year—only one percent of the program’s budget. Republicans wanted to slash $39 billion from SNAP over the next decade and Democrats proposed a $4 billion cut.