Success Story 7: NIPSIG

Success Story

Our Grant is Funding Innovative Nutrition Incentive Programs Nationwide

We’re granting over $200K to support programs that pilot creative solutions to increase access to healthy foods across the US

We’re pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of our Nutrition Incentive Innovation Grants. We’re awarding over $200K split across nine organizations that span the country, from New York and Baltimore to Portland and the Bay Area. Chosen from over 100 competitive applications, the winning awardees each use healthy-food “nutrition incentive” coupons to address food insecurity through a diverse set of groundbreaking approaches, all with the shared goal of helping people in poverty afford locally grown produce. Winning innovative projects include produce prescriptions, mobile markets, farmers markets supporting Medicaid patients and soup kitchen clients, and even the development of a brick-and-mortar store specifically offering fresh, affordable options to low-income shoppers.

We’ve been supporting nutrition incentive programs to make produce affordable since 2007 and now operate the National Nutrition Incentive Network. We developed this innovation grant to foster the development of creative solutions to increase affordable access to healthy food for the families who need it most. Because when people can afford produce, they buy it. Outcomes include real benefits for people in poverty, regional economies, the environment and public health.

The grants, funded by Target and the Sampson Foundation, were open to members of the National Nutrition Incentive Network, which is free to join and provides support to partners in 46 states and over 700 locations. Wholesome Wave invited applications spanning a range of nutrition incentive programs from farmers markets, brick-and-mortar stores, fruit and vegetable prescription programs, food banks and pantries, as well as programs addressing food waste and seconds. A diversity of applications focused on piloting new approaches or scaling existing ones for increased impact.  

These nine awardees signal the community-driven interest in fresh, local food for all, and represent the innovative efforts taking shape across the country. One winner developed a CSA specifically for low-income patients with diet-related disease. Another opened a retail store that offers 40% incentive bonuses on SNAP purchases for use towards nutritious choices. All awardees are piloting exciting new ideas with the goal of scaling and replicating these solutions in the years to come.

The 2016 NIPSIG awardees are:

Aurora Farmers Market

Aurora, IL

Healthier Eating for Aurora's Neediest Families



Through an innovative partnership with the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry in Aurora, IL, the Aurora Farmers Market(s) will connect 100 pantry client families with weekly, $10 produce prescriptions to purchase farm fresh fruit & vegetables at market through the summer season. The project also seeks to ensure that access to fresh produce is available to ALL of the pantry’s clients, by incorporating a farmers market and community garden gleaning program to aggregate unsold seconds and donated produce to green the pantry’s offerings.


City of Madison

Madison, WI

An FVRx Pilot for Madison's Northside



The City of Madison in Madison, WI looks to pilot its own fresh take on the FVRx program in Madison’s Northside. 175 food insecure patients and their families will receive a fresh produce stipend for six months with a goal of increasing vegetable consumption and increased food security through free membership at the Willy St. Grocery Co-op, offering participants an additional 10% discount on all purchases.


Farm Fresh Rhode Island

Pawtucket, RI

Incentives for a Healthy Corner Store, Focusing on SNAP-Eligible Grab N' Go Meals



With NIPSIG funding, Farm Fresh Rhode Island is taking SNAP bonus incentives from farmers markets into their own, new retail store and kitchen, Harvest Kitchen, in Pawtucket, RI. This isn’t your regular corner store. In addition to 40% bonuses on eligible SNAP purchases, the site will be used to give job training and employment opportunities to at-risk youth in a community-informed culinary kitchen - processing local B-grade produce and turning it into lightly processed, delicious affordable, nutritious grab-n-go snacks and meals.


Fresh Approach

Concord, CA

Expanding Healthy Food Incentives on the Freshest Cargo Mobile Farmers' Markets



The Fresh Approach ‘Freshest Cargo Mobile Market’ addresses affordable access to healthy, local food with innovation and understanding. In 2017, the organization will expand its route to seven new sites and respond to community needs for affordable produce that extend beyond the SNAP rolls – in addition to a SNAP match, Fresh Approach will match payments made by WIC and SSI recipients up to $20 a week, with new routes reaching an additional 4,000 individuals and their families.


Grow NYC

New York, NY

Grow NYC's Fresh Pantry Project



As an established pioneer and heavyweight in the food-access scene, Grow NYC aims to grow better linkages between its city-wide network of farmers markets and the city’s system of food pantries. Grow NYC will deploy over 1,600 $12 vouchers with built-in survey instruments to pantry clientele to encourage first-time use of the City’s farmers markets and to simultaneously glean knowledge on the shopping, eating, and spending habits of New York City’s most food insecure to better serve them moving forward.


Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP)

Roanoke, VA

Medicaid: The Next Frontier of Food Access Programs



In 2017, Local Environmental Agriculture Pilot (LEAP) will pilot an innovative program addressing a growing need: roughly 40% of Virginia’s Medicaid recipients do not receive SNAP and the state’s SNAP enrollment and issuance is in decline, leaving of Virginia’s food insecure unable to participate in traditional SNAP Double Dollar programs. LEAP will provide free $10 vegetable vouchers and guided tours to Roanoke and Fredericksburg area Medicaid recipients at two pilot farmers markets. Throughout the season, Medicaid patients will receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10, with hopes for scalability at markets across the state.


Maryland Farmers Market Association

Baltimore, MD

Supporting Healthy Food Access, Local Farmers, and Urban Communities through a thriving, expanded Maryland Market Money program in Baltimore City



The Maryland Farmers Market Association knows that fresh, healthy, local food is in high demand in Baltimore City. In 2016, the Maryland Market Money program matched a combined $172,000 SNAP, WIC, and FMNP benefits across 21 Maryland  markets, with high demand in Charm City,  until the program was forced to end early due to an exhaustion of funds. The demand for affordable fruits and vegetables is there, and this year, with the help of NIPSIG funds, the Maryland Market Money program is looking forward to meeting it for a full season.


St. Joseph's Health Foundation

Syracuse, NY

Community Initiative to Improve Self-Management of Patients with Type II Diabetes



St. Joseph’s Health Foundation, represents a large non-profit hospital serving an at-risk population in the Syracuse Westside neighborhood. St. Joseph’s is interested in using NIPSIG funds to boost the efficacy of an educational program promoting Type II diabetes self-management for patients with poor A1c control by providing incentives for class attendance in the form of produce prescriptions for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables at the community’s one and only grocery store.


Zenger Farm

Portland, OR

CSA Partnerships for Health



As an established food access innovator in the Community Supported Agriculture arena, Zenger Farms is looking to 2017 to scale it’s ‘CSA Partnership for Health’ program’s impact and evaluation. 180 patients will receive CSA shares at 15% of the cost, and benefit not only from fresh, local fruits and vegetables, but from cooking demos and nutrition education, paired with community-building workshops and dinners. Through this work, Zenger Farms aims to deepen the connection between the agricultural and health systems with the collection of data to inform future health care investment in programs which increase fruit and vegetable consumption.