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Family Services

The information provided below is to assist you in identifying USDA family services that may be of particular interest to socially disadvantaged as well as small and beginning farmers and ranchers. This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage you to notify us of any links that you think should be added by e-mailing us at


About USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), formerly known as the Food and Consumer Service, administers the nutrition assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of FNS is to provide children and needy families better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive nutrition education efforts.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP provides low-income households with electronic benefits they can use like a debit card to purchase food at stores authorized by USDA. SNAP is the cornerstone of the Federal food assistance programs, and provides crucial support to needy households and to those making the transition from welfare to work.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers SNAP at the Federal level through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). State agencies administer the program at State and local levels, including determination of eligibility and allotments, and distribution of benefits.

Local SNAP offices can provide information about eligibility, and USDA operates a toll-free number (800-221-5689) for people to receive information about SNAP. Most states also have a toll free information/hotline number.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.

To apply to be a WIC participant, you will need to contact your State or local agency to set up an appointment.  Check out your State's website or call the toll-free number.  When you call to set up an appointment, someone will tell you the location nearest your home and what you need to bring with you.


About USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA's unique mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. NIFA doesn't perform actual research, education, and extension but rather helps fund such activities at the state and local level and provides program leadership in these areas.

Families, Youth, & Communities Overview
Strong families, youth, and communities are important to a prosperous and productive American society. In cooperation with public and private sector partners and the Land-Grant University System, NIFA:

  • Offers integrated research, education, and extension perspectives;
  • Provides national leadership for programs addressing critical issues relating to families, youth, and communities;
  • Conducts programs primarily in partnership with land-grant university scientists and cooperative extension faculty.