Hunger Free Oklahoma Secures $14.2 Million Grant to Increase Access to Fruits and Vegetables in Oklahoma Food Deserts

Hunger Free Oklahoma Secures $14.2 Million Grant to Increase Access to Fruits and Vegetables in Oklahoma Food Deserts

The largest recorded Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant (GusNIP grant)

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 (Tulsa, OK) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that Hunger Free Oklahoma is the recipient of the largest recorded Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grant. The four-year grant award of $14.2 million, from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is critical to expanding the Double Up Oklahoma (DUO) program to farmers markets and grocery stores in high-need areas across the state. Double Up Oklahoma offers a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $20 per day, on SNAP purchases for qualifying fruits and vegetables at participating locations.*

According to Richard Comeau, Senior Director of Programs at Hunger Free Oklahoma, the USDA grant will be transformative for Oklahoma with the potential to reach 50 of Oklahoma’s most food insecure communities.

“We will be working with communities and partners across the state to identify areas where access to nutritious food is severely limited and implementing programs that really meet the community’s needs,” said Comeau. “Oklahomans living in food deserts, rural communities, and areas with high health disparities will all have access to more nutritious food, improved food security, and the ability to stretch their budgets further amidst rising inflation and the end of COVID-19 support programs.”

Hunger Free Oklahoma has operated the Double Up Oklahoma program since 2019; at that time the program only existed at farmers markets. In the past three years, through strategic growth and partnerships, DUO has expanded and currently operates in 10 grocery stores, as well as 17 independent farmers markets across the state. Expanding the number of stores over the next four years will offer increased options and access to fresh fruits and vegetables for participating communities. Hunger Free Oklahoma believes this will have a huge impact on those communities.

“We are grateful to the USDA and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture for this opportunity and to all supporters who contributed towards the matching funds required to apply for this grant,” said Chris Bernard, Executive Director at Hunger Free Oklahoma. “Collectively, this support will allow us to make Double Up Oklahoma the largest nutrition incentive program in the region. More importantly, this grant allows us to make sure more communities have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and more Oklahomans have the resources they need to make healthy choices. At Hunger Free Oklahoma, we believe that ideas should be tested and when shown effective they should be scaled. This grant award is the next big step to scaling Double Up Oklahoma to every community in our state.”

“Recently HFO was highlighted in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health Fact Sheet for its goal of expanding DUO into all 77 counties in Oklahoma,” Chris continued. “This grant along with the private and state dollars committed to the program will help to reach more than 50% of that goal.”

Read more from the USDA press release here: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2022/11/22/usda-invests-more-59m-improve-dietary-health-and-nutrition-security

The DUO program expansion is funded through the USDA via the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, Ascension St. John, Sanford and Irene Burnstein Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Tulsa Area United Way, and The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

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Hunger Free Oklahoma works to leverage the power of collaboration to solve hunger in Oklahoma by improving systems, policies, and practices. Learn more at HungerFreeOK.org. Apply for SNAP by phone: 1 (877) 760-0114.

Double Up Oklahoma, a program of Hunger Free Oklahoma, doubles the value (up to $20 per day) of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars spent at participating farmers markets and grocery stores in Oklahoma. Learn more at DoubleUpOklahoma.org.

 

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