WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner today announced that up to $5 million is available for Food Stamp Program grants to improve the accessibility and awareness of USDA's Food Stamp Program for low-income households.

"These grants are part of President Bush's efforts to encourage those who are eligible for benefits to participate in the Food Stamp Program," said Conner. "Expanding our partnerships with state governments, as well as faith and community based organizations, will help to further enhance access to families needing nutrition assistance."

The 2002 Farm Bill authorized USDA to award $5 million in grants for projects aimed at simplifying the food stamp application and eligibility systems or improving access to food stamp benefits by eligible households. This year, USDA intends to fund at least one proposal that involves a partnership between a state agency and one or more private non-profit organizations, including faith- or community-based organizations.

In addition, FNS is interested in funding a proposal that consists of a partnership between state agencies that serve traditionally underserved and economically depressed geographic areas that overlap state boundaries.

The Food Stamp Program, administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, is the cornerstone of federal nutrition assistance programs and provides crucial support to working poor and needy households. The program currently serves more than 26 million people monthly.

Grant applications can be found online at www.grants.gov or on the Food and Nutrition Service Web site. Grant applications will be accepted for the next 90 days.

SOURCE: USDA news release.