By Thomas Phippen
The head of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is pleased at the number of people who relied on welfare to stay above the poverty line in 2015.
“Last year, SNAP kept at least 4.7 million Americans — including 2.1 million children — out of poverty,” agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release announcing grant awards related to welfare support Wednesday.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients must be employed to receive the benefits, but welfare benefits like SNAP are considered income when calculating poverty levels.
The USDA announced new grant awards totaling $16.8 million to promote healthy diets among low-income families. As part of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the USDA gives money to “strengthen local and regional food systems” so SNAP recipients purchase fresh foods with their food stamps. (RELATED: Woman Goes BERZERK When Store Declines Her Food Stamps [VIDEO])
The awards announced Wednesday mark the second round of funding since the 2014 Farm Bill authorized $100 million over five years for the program. To date, the USDA has spent $50,351,101 in grants, according to USAspending.gov.
“Programs like FINI build on the success we’ve seen with the use of healthy incentives and with many of the projects being run at farmers markets, we’re also helping to strengthen local and regional food systems,” Vilsack said in the statement.
The nearly $17 million grant will go primarily to food banks and local farmers markets, but the USDA also awarded money to nutrition counseling programs, research initiatives and farmers market marketing companies.
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