OMAHA, NE / ACCESSWIRE / June 17, 2021 / The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, a nonprofit, independent research center, has released a report outlining the results from the first year of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). The program supports nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects nationwide to decrease food insecurity, increase the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables, improve health outcomes and decrease associated health care use and costs.
Program evaluation results and the report were compiled by the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation and Information Center (GusNIP NTAE Center), led by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition.
In 2019, the inaugural year of GusNIP funding, 22 projects across 19 states, including two on tribal land, were funded. Funding went to 13 nutrition incentive projects and nine produce prescription projects that aim to increase fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption to positively impact the health status of participating households. The grants ranged from one-year pilot projects of up to $100,000 to multi-year, large-scale projects of more than $500,000.
The report findings, from Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2020, detailed the support offered to GusNIP-funded projects and the resulting impacts. Key findings included:
- The total economic impact of the 2019 GusNIP projects is estimated to amount to more than $7.9 million, almost double that of the number of incentives issued. In addition to their local economic impact, these programs typically receive bipartisan support for their ability to help low-income consumers increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables, while also supporting farmers and producers.
- 68.5% of GusNIP funds were used directly for incentives, and nearly 90% of incentives issued were redeemed. Exacerbated by the pandemic, at a time when healthy, affordable food is needed more urgently than ever, these programs not only work to alleviate food insecurity, but also improve nutrition security.
- GusNIP grantees and their partners raced to meet the pandemic-induced surges in demand for affordable, healthy food. The pandemic overwhelmed many grocery and farm-direct retailers with increased demand, while simultaneously impacting the livelihood of farmers and operations of farmers markets. In response to this economic and health crisis, grantees worked to ensure their incentive projects could help meet the surging needs in their communities.
"It's incredible to witness the resilience of the GusNIP-funded organizations, and how hard they worked to adapt and bring more fruits and vegetables to people during a time that the need was greater than ever," said GusNIP NTAE Center Project Director and Gretchen Swanson Center Executive Director Dr. Amy Yaroch.
The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition partnered with Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit with a mission to grow community health and wealth through food, to create the Nutrition Incentive Hub. The Nutrition Incentive Hub is a coalition of partners dedicated to building the capacity of grantees and potential grantees through technical assistance and innovation.
"Our Nutrition Incentive Hub partners are outstanding. Together, we provided 600 hours of technical assistance to 190 practitioners," said Project Lead of Technical Assistance at the GusNIP NTAE Center's Nutrition Incentive Hub and Fair Food Network Senior Director of Programs Holly Parker. "The expertise in the areas of program evaluation, outcomes-based reporting, farm-direct and grocery retail, point-of-sale technology, local sourcing, nutrition education and more helps grantees to hit the ground running and efficiently achieve program goals."
GusNIP is funded through the 2018 Farm Bill with grants allocated to organizations through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
"Good health is often determined by the food on our plates," said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille. "By bringing together stakeholders from across food and healthcare systems, GusNIP grants help us improve and promote greater understanding of this vital connection and to lead us to better health and nutrition for those we serve."
"GusNIP holds promise for increasing food security alongside fruit and vegetable intake to improve health outcomes of people across the nation. We look forward to working with our grantees and promoting their progress on an upward trajectory of results and impact in the next year," said NTAE Center Associate Project Director for Reporting and Evaluation and Gretchen Swanson Center Principal Research Scientist Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks.
For the full report and a list of 2019-2020 grantees, visit https://www.nutritionincentivehub.org/s/GusNIP-NTAE-Impact-Findings_Year-1.pdf
About the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation and Information Center (GusNIP NTAE Center) and Nutrition Incentive Hub
The GusNIP NTAE Center is led by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, a nonprofit research organization with expertise in the measurement and evaluation of nutrition-related programs. In partnership with Fair Food Network, they assembled the Nutrition Incentive Hub, a coalition of partners that supports nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects. Partners include practitioners, grocery and farmers market experts, researchers and evaluators from across the country dedicated to strengthening and uniting the best thinking in the field to increase access to affordable, healthy food to those who need it most.
The GusNIP NTAE Center is funded through a cooperative agreement and is supported by Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant no. 2019-70030-30415/project accession no. 1020863 from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information about the Nutrition Incentive Hub, please visit www.nutritionincentivehub.org.
Amy M. Koné
Associate Project Director for Partnerships,
Technology, and Communication
GusNIP NTAE Center
SOURCE: Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition