WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded $2,276,890 to Produce Perks Midwest of Ohio to help administer the Produce Perks Program. The program helps provide low-income families and individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with $1 to match every dollar spent to purchase healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. There are nearly 100 farmers markets in Ohio participating in the program. Brown wrote a letter of support requesting the funds in December.

“This investment will help Produce Perks Midwest expand their reach, so that they can continue helping Ohio families access fresh fruits and vegetables and support Ohio farmers,” Brown said.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to help struggling families and farmers across Ohio,” said Tevis Foreman, Executive Director of Produce Perks Midwest. “Healthy, nutritious food is a basic necessity for us all - yet millions of people in communities throughout Ohio experience the hardship of not having access to affordable fruits and vegetables.  We at Produce Perks are indebted to our local farmers, farmers markets', grocery-retailers, and countless partners working hard everyday to provide this basic need.  Produce Perks supports families and farmers, while strengthening local economies." 

“Nationally, Ohio has the seventh highest number of households receiving SNAP benefits,” said Darcy Freedman, PhD, Associate Professor at Case Western University School of Medicine. “This grant provides an exceptional opportunity to link these families with a proven intervention in the form of monetary incentives to purchase fruits and vegetables. This reduces some of the financial constraints for purchasing fresh and healthy foods while also creating a ripple effect stimulating economic opportunities for our local farmers and food retailers serving low-income residents.”

Produce Perks Midwest is a regional nonprofit that pioneers solutions to address inequities within the food system by helping low-income families eat more fruits and vegetables, while supporting local farmers and growing local economies in underserved communities.

These funds are a part of the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, which Brown helped secure as part of the 2014 Farm Bill and is continuing to advocate for in the 2018 Farm Bill.

In May, Brown helped secure provisions in the Senate Farm Bill to include the FINI grant program and create permanent, mandatory baseline funding.

Brown was appointed this week to serve as a conferee on the committee that will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill