Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced new funding opportunities for state agencies and Indian tribal organizations to develop innovative strategies to prevent hunger and food insecurity. The demonstration projects under the new initiative are designed to find solutions so that no child goes hungry.
"These projects offer an opportunity to explore new ways of combating childhood hunger," said Vilsack. "By encouraging new innovations, we can not only improve childhood nutrition, but also promote economic development in high-need areas."
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 provided $40 million to conduct and evaluate demonstration projects aimed at ending childhood hunger, including alternative models for service delivery and benefit levels that promote the reduction or elimination of childhood hunger and food insecurity. Nutritious foods are essential to getting kids off to a healthy start in life, and too many families are unable to provide proper nutrition for their children.
Potential projects could include innovative program delivery models for school meals, afterschool snacks programs, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program; enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for eligible households with children; and changes to other targeted federal, state or local assistance, including refundable tax credits, emergency housing, employment and training, or family preservation services for households with children who are experiencing food insecurity.
Through these demonstration projects, USDA will target areas or populations where there are currently elevated levels of food insecurity or gaps in nutrition assistance program coverage. The HHFKA requires that at least one demonstration project be carried out on an Indian reservation in a rural area with a service population having a prevalence of diabetes that exceeds 15 percent.
"With the food access challenges facing many rural tribal areas, we're focused on using this initiative to find better ways to get more nutritious food to the children in those areas in particular," said Vilsack.
Approximately $30 million will be awarded for up to five demonstration projects in the form of cooperative agreements between USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and grantees. The remaining funds will be used for independent evaluations of each project.
The Request for Applications was released today on Grants.gov. Letters of Intent are due on May 1, 2014, and completed applications are due on July 7, 2014. FNS will consider only one application from each state, U.S. territory, Indian tribal organization (ITO), or the District of Columbia. However, FNS will consider applications from both a state and an ITO with different proposed project sites in the same state. For more information, please visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/demonstration-projects-end-childhood-hunger.
USDA's FNS administers America's nutrition assistance programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.