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Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program

Grants to USA Nonprofits and Agencies to Encourage
Low-Income Individuals to Buy Fruits and Vegetables

Agency Type:

Federal

Funding Source:

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Deadline Date:

12/13/17 5:00 PM EST Receipt

Description:

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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations and government agencies for projects that promote the purchase of nutritious fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. Applicants are advised that the required online registration may take up to two weeks to complete. This program offers incentives at the point of purchase for consumers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Purpose and Priorities:

The FINI RFA directly aligns with the Research, Education, and Economics Action Plan and specifically addresses Goal 4 by strengthening established strategic partnerships and strengthening implementation practices to encourage healthy eating and physical activity at the individual and community levels, focusing on high-risk groups and also advancing Strategic Goal 4.2 of the USDA Strategic Plan.

The primary goal of the FINI grant program is to fund and evaluate projects intended to “increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers participating in [SNAP] by providing incentives at the point of purchase” (FCEA, § 4405(b)(2)(A)(ii)(II)). For FINI grant, NIFA defines “fruits and vegetables” as “any variety of fresh, canned, dried, or frozen whole or cut fruits and vegetables without added sugars, fats, or oils, and salt (i.e. sodium).” The program will test strategies that could contribute to the understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to inform future efforts, and develop effective and efficient benefit redemption technologies.

The Act requires the Secretary to conduct an independent evaluation of funded projects, to measure the impact of projects on: “improving the nutrition and health status of participating households receiving incentives” and “increasing fruit and vegetable purchases in participating households.”

Incentivizing purchases of fruits and vegetables increases their affordability and consumption. For example, USDA recently completed an evaluation of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP), which investigated the impact of making fruits and vegetables more affordable to SNAP participants. Under HIP, SNAP households received 30 cents on every SNAP dollar they spent on targeted fruits and vegetables at participating SNAP-authorized retailers including large supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers markets. This pilot operated in Hampden County, MA between November 2011 and December 2012. A rigorous evaluation showed that HIP significantly increased the consumption of targeted fruits and vegetables and this increased consumption was on the order of about one quarter of a cup per day.

Grantees that receive both FINI and SNAP-Ed funds must keep in mind the following guidelines:

SNAP-Ed is an evidence-based program that helps people lead healthier lives. SNAP-Ed teaches people using or eligible for SNAP about good nutrition and how to make their food dollars stretch further. SNAP-Ed participants also learn to be physically active.

-While SNAP-Ed providers are encouraged to form partnerships and collaborations in order to leverage resources, SNAP-Ed funds may not be used to provide actual cash or other financial incentives.

-SNAP-Ed funds can be used for policy, systems and environmental change interventions, such as working with retailers on fruit and vegetable product placement, and social marketing in addition to educational efforts at venues such as Farmers Markets, Senior Centers, Child Care locations, etc.

All FINI projects must (1) aim to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (2) operate through authorized and reported SNAP retailers per Part I Section D of this RFA titled “Program Policy”, and in compliance with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements; (3) agree to participate in the FINI comprehensive program evaluation and facilitate participation through data collection and the use of Data Use Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding as outlined in Part IV Section B titled “Content and Form of Application Submission” and Part I Section D of this RFA titled “Program Policy”; (4) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by individuals with SNAP benefits and with incentives provided under the FINI grant program as apply to purchases made by individuals who are not members of households receiving benefits as provided in 7 C.F.R. 278.2(b); (5) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other States and communities; and (6) applicants proposing projects that require interaction with or modification of EBT systems must submit a letter of support from applicable SNAP State Agencies as part of their grant application. All other applicants are encouraged, but are not required, to submit letters of support from applicable SNAP State Agencies as part of their grant application.

In reviewing applications submitted in response to this RFA, and depending on the type of FINI project (as described in further detail in Part I, C.1, C.2, and C.3), NIFA will give priority to projects that:

-Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
-Test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to an understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, that would inform future efforts;
-Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
-Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing;
-Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers;
-Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables (as defined in Subpart VIII (E) of this document), especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience;
-Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities (see Part VIII, E for more information);
-Focus on incentives that are most likely to directly and efficiently increase the purchase and consumption of FINI qualifying fruits and vegetables by SNAP clients; and
-Require that SNAP recipients utilize their EBT cards to make qualifying food purchases in order to earn FINI incentives.

FINI projects present the opportunity to bring together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and to foster understanding of how they might improve the nutrition and health status of participating households receiving incentives through the purchase of fruits and vegetables. FINI projects are also intended to address the development of effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption that are replicable by others.

Program Area Description:

NIFA is soliciting applications for three (3) types of grants: (1) FINI Pilot Projects (FPP); (2) FINI Projects (FP); and (3) FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP).

1. FINI Pilot Projects (FPP)

FINI Pilot Projects (FPP) support the development of projects with an infusion of federal dollars to pilot innovative strategies to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables (as defined in Subpart VIII (E) of this document) by low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. FPPs must operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements. FPPs are aimed at new entrants seeking funding for a project in the early stages of incentive program development. The project should be designed to create community-based food incentive projects with objectives, activities, and outcomes that are in alignment with the FINI grant program’s primary goals. Preference will be given to pilot projects that do one or more of the following:

(i) Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
(ii) Test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to an understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, to inform future efforts;
(iii) Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
(iv) Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing;
(v) Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience;
(vi) Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities;
(vii) Focus on incentives that are most likely to directly and efficiently increase the purchase and consumption of FINI qualifying fruits and vegetables by SNAP clients; and/or
(viii) Require that SNAP recipients utilize their EBT cards to make qualifying food purchases in order to earn FINI incentives.

Examples of FPPs include, but are not limited to, innovative strategies working at point of purchase with SNAP authorized retailers, including food stores, market stands, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), marketing and consumer cooperatives, and other SNAP authorized retailers.

Project assessments must follow USDA guidelines to ensure an appropriate level of comparability of methods, outcomes, and measures.

2. FINI Projects (FP)

FINI Projects (FP) support the development and evaluation of projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables (as defined in Subpart VIII (E) of this document) by low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase. The projects will test strategies that could increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants to inform future efforts, and develop effective and efficient benefit redemption technologies.

FPs should be designed to create or support local community-based food projects with objectives, activities, and outcomes that are in alignment with the FINI grant program’s primary goals. FP(s) are aimed at mid-sized groups developing incentive programs at the local or state level; organizations in this category are typically not new to implementing such programs, although projects are required to expand the breadth, scope or reach of these programs, rather than supplant current program resources. FPs are not in the pilot stages of development and should have established relationships with necessary partners and collaborators. FPs must operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements. Preference will be given to projects that do one or more of the following:

(i) Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
(ii) Test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to an understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, to inform future efforts;
(iii) Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
(iv) Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing;
(v) Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers;
(vi) Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience;
(vii) Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities;
(viii) Focus on incentives that are most likely to directly and efficiently increase the purchase and consumption of FINI qualifying fruits and vegetables by SNAP clients; and/or
(viiii) Require that SNAP recipients utilize their EBT cards to make qualifying food purchases in order to earn FINI incentives. Examples of Fps include, but are not limited to, innovative strategies working at point of purchase with SNAP authorized retailers, including food stores, market stands, farmers’ markets, CSAs, marketing and consumer cooperatives, and other SNAP authorized retailers.

3. FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP)

The primary purpose of the FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP) is to develop and evaluate projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables (as defined in subpart VIII (E) of this document) by low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase, using effective and efficient benefit redemption technologies. The projects will test strategies that could contribute to an understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants to inform future efforts.

FLSP should be designed to create or support multi-county, State-wide and regional incentive programs. FLSP should be coordinated food projects with objectives, activities, and outcomes that align with the FINI grant program’s primary goals. Projects must operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements. Projects are required to expand the breadth, scope or reach of these programs, rather than supplant current program resources. Preference will be given to projects that do one or more of the following:

(i) Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
(ii) Test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to an understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, to inform future efforts;
(iii) Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
(iv) Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing;
(v) Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers;
(vi) Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience;
(vii) Are located in underserved communities, particularly Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities;
(viii) Focus on incentives that are most likely to directly and efficiently increase the purchase and consumption of FINI qualifying fruits and vegetables by SNAP clients; and/or
(ix) Require that SNAP recipients utilize their EBT cards to make qualifying food purchases in order to earn FINI incentives.

FINI Large Scale Projects include, but are not limited to, innovative strategies working at point of purchase with SNAP authorized retailers, including food stores, market stands, farmers’ markets, CSAs, marketing and consumer cooperatives, and other SNAP authorized retailers.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 163668

Estimated Total Program Funding:

$21,000,000

Estimated Size of Grant:

-FINI Pilot Projects (FPP): Awards not to exceed $100,000
-FINI Projects (FP): Awards not to exceed $500,000
-FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP): Awards of $500,000 or greater

Term of Contract:

FINI Pilot Projects (FPP) period is up to one year.

FINI Projects (FP) period is not to exceed four (4) years.

FINI Large Scale Projects (FLSP) period is not to exceed four (4) years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applications may only be submitted by government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the conduct of the project. Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the time of application deadline may result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award.

FPP, FP, & FLSP Eligible Entity:

Eligibility to receive this grant is limited to government agencies and nonprofit organizations (FCEA, § 4405(b)(2)(A)). Eligible government agencies and nonprofit organizations may include: an emergency feeding organization; an agricultural cooperative; a producer network or association; a community health organization; a public benefit corporation; an economic development corporation; a farmers’ market; a community-supported agriculture program; a buying club; a SNAP-authorized retailer; and a State, local, or tribal agency. All applicants must demonstrate in their application that they are a government agency or nonprofit organization.

To be eligible to receive a FPP, FP, or FLSP grant, applicants must propose projects that: (1) would increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (2) operate through authorized SNAP retailers, and comply with all relevant SNAP regulations and operating requirements; (3) agree to participate in the FINI comprehensive program evaluation; (4) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by individuals with SNAP benefits and with incentives under the FINI grant program as apply to purchases made by individuals who are not members of households receiving benefits as provided in 7 C.F.R. 278.2(b); and (5) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other States and communities.

Note: Because the statutory language of the 2014 Farm Bill requires FINI grantees to provide incentives specifically to SNAP clients, the equal treatment provision of 7 CFR 278.2(b) does not apply to FINI grantees for the purpose of providing incentives under the FINI grant.

In addition, applicants must meet the following requirements to receive a FPP, FP, or FLSP grant: (1) have experience in: (i) efforts to reduce food insecurity in the community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs; or (ii) experience with the SNAP program; (2) demonstrate competency to implement a project, provide fiscal accountability, collect data, and prepare reports and other necessary documentation; and (3) possess a demonstrated willingness to share information with researchers, evaluators (including the independent evaluator for the program), practitioners, and other interested parties, including a plan for dissemination of results to stakeholders.

Projects are encouraged to provide employees with important job skills. Additionally, applicants are encouraged to have experience in the following areas: (i) community food work, particularly concerning small and medium-sized farms, including the provision of food to people in low- income communities and the development of new markets in low-income communities for agricultural producers; and (ii) job training and business development activities for food-related activities in low-income communities.

Partners and Collaborators:

Applicants for FPP, FP, and FLSP awards are encouraged to seek and create partnerships with public or private, nonprofit or for-profit entities, including links with academic institutions (including minority-serving colleges and universities) and/or other appropriate professionals; community-based organizations; local government entities; Promise Zone lead applicant/organization or implementation partners; and StrikeForce area coordinators and/or partnering entities for the purposes of providing additional resources and strengthening under- resourced communities. Only the applicant must meet the requirements specified above for grant eligibility. Project partners and collaborators need not meet the eligibility requirements. When planning collaborations, see Part III, B. Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the successful completion of the project. See Part IV, D., Funding Restrictions.

Fiscal Agent:

If an institution/organization cannot accept Federal funds directly, a letter must be included in the application stating that in the event the application results in an award, the award funds must be administered through a fiscal agent organization on their behalf. This agent must be identified in the letter from the applicant and the letter must be countersigned by an authorized representative of the fiscal agent organization. The letter should include the fiscal agent’s point of contact, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address. This letter is to be included as an attachment to Field 12, Other Attachments (Part IV.B.3.c.) of the application. In the event an application is recommended for funding, NIFA will request that both the applicant institution/organization and the fiscal agent organization submit complete management information (see Part V, D.). Include documents showing the organization’s nonprofit status when responding to this request.

Pre-proposal Conference:

A webinar reviewing this proposal and match requirements was held on October 19, 2017 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time for potential applicants.

The webinar recording is accessible here:
https://nifa.usda.gov/program/food-insecurity-nutrition-incentive-fini-grant-program

Pre-Application Information:

FPP, FP, and FLSP applicants MUST provide matching contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis for all Federal funds awarded. Match must be documented for all project years at the time the application is submitted. FPP, FP, and FLSP grantees may meet the match requirement through cash and/or in-kind contributions, including third-party in-kind contributions fairly evaluated, including facilities, equipment, or services.

The non-Federal share of the funding may come from State government, local government, or private sources. Federal money cannot be used to match. Examples of qualifying matching contributions may include direct costs such as: rent for office space used exclusively for the funded project; duplication or postage costs; and staff time from an entity other than the applicant for job training or nutrition education.

Note that if an applicant partners with a for-profit entity, the non-Federal share that is required to be provided by the applicant may not include the services of an employee of that for-profit entity, including salaries or expenses covered by that employer. (FCEA, § 4405(b)(1)(c)(ii)).

Prior to preparing an application, it is recommended that the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) first contact an Authorized Representative (AR, also referred to as Authorized Organizational Representative, or AOR) to determine if the organization is prepared to submit electronic applications through Grants.gov. If not (e.g., the institution/organization is new to the electronic grant application process through Grants.gov), then the one-time registration process must be completed PRIOR to submitting an application. It can take as long as two weeks to complete the registration process so it is critical to begin as soon as possible.

Applications must be received by 5:00 PM EST on December 13 2017.

View this opportunity on Grants.gov:
https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=297637

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

For more information, contact:
Jane Clary Loveless, Ph.D., RN, National Program Leader
P: (202)-720-3891
F: (202)-401-4888
jclary@nifa.usda.gov

Contact for Electronic Access Problems:
electronic@nifa.usda.gov

Questions regarding the policies may be directed to:
FINI@fns.usda.gov

General questions about SNAP and EBT should be directed to USDA FNS’s Ask the Expert system at:
http://www.fns.usda.gov/ask-the-expert

CFDA Number:

10.331

Funding or Pin Number:

USDA-NIFA-FINI-006393

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming