The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded the Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., a $313,000 Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant through the LINK UP Illinois program to enable more Illinois farmers markets to implement SNAP nutrition incentive programs in 2016 and 2017.
Since 2011, LINK Up Illinois has provided funding, training and technical support to more than 80 Illinois farmers markets and market sites to enable them to match purchases made with SNAP benefits (formerly ‘food stamps’). The Double Value Coupon Program has allowed the state’s low-income population to have greater purchasing power at the markets, which also boosts sales for local farmers.
The FINI award builds upon a $250,000 Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) previously awarded to Experimental Station by the United States Department of Agriculture to support the acceptance and usage of SNAP benefits at Illinois farmers markets. The FMSSG award will enable up to 50 Illinois farmers markets to receive funds and technical assistance in 2016 and 2017.
With this FINI award, LINK Up Illinois will expand the Double Value Coupon Program to additional farmers markets statewide and provide farmers market outreach in underserved neighborhoods on Chicago’s west side.
“Whether or not access to healthy food is a human right is a debatable issue,” said Connie Spreen, executive director of Experimental Station, in a written statement. “What is not debatable is the simple fact that it is not possible for our state’s economy, society, and culture to be healthy if a large percentage of our population is not.”