Funding available because of local food bill Pingree wrote
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced today that multiple Maine organizations have been awarded funding through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), a new program that was proposed in Congresswoman Pingree’s Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act and included in the Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2014.
Maine Farmland Trust, based in Belfast, was awarded a FINI grant for $249,816. The grant will incentivize SNAP customers to purchase fruits and vegetables grown by Maine farmers. The project will ensure that low-income Mainers have access to affordable and nutritious food, while providing an expanded market for local farmers. The economic impact from this grant alone is estimated to be $1 million, according to Maine Farmland Trust.
A second FINI grant will go to national nonprofit Wholesome Wave, which will coordinate fresh produce incentive programs at markets throughout Maine and will work with local partners, including Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Cultivating Community, Food and Medicine, Healthy Acadia, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.
“I am thrilled that Maine Farmland Trust was awarded this grant from the Department of Agriculture,” Pingree said. “This grant is a testament of the great work that Maine Farmland Trust conducts under the leadership of executive director, John Piotti and the entire staff. 85 markets in Maine, connecting tens of thousands of farmers and consumers, will benefit from the two FINI grants. Programs like FINI bridge the gap between low-income consumers and farmers, create good jobs, and help revitalize Maine’s rural communities.”
Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and sits on the Agriculture Subcommittee, which sets the budget for the Department of Agriculture. Pingree has become a national leader on local food and agriculture issues, and has been a strong advocate of programs that increase access to healthy, local foods. She wrote the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which increased funding for programs that support local and sustainable farms and farmers.