N° 13 | September 2015

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in USA & Healthy eating

Editorial

US Efforts to Boost Fruit/Veg Purchase through SNAP

These papers illustrate three barriers to Fruit and Vegetable (F&V) access that depress consumption among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. There are proven-effective strategies that can help close that gap.

Laska shows that access to healthy foods, especially F&V, is a persistent problem in many small, corner, and convenience stores. Congress required SNAP retailers to increase their stock from 3 to > 7 items in each of 4 food groups, but many small retailers oppose USDA’s proposed healthier options. They fear poor demand, yet healthy corner store initiatives with non-profi t and public sector partners show remarkable success.

Pitts’ paper points to consumers’ need to connect with their food. All sorts of farmto-fork efforts thrive: farmers’ markets, mobile markets, CSAs (community-supported agriculture), farm stands, and locally-grown campaigns. While extra effort with SNAP audiences is needed, US farmers’ markets grew 180%, to over 8,200 (2006-2014), and SNAP sales rose 400% (2009-2012).

Wolfson and Bleich showcase lifestyle challenges. The Healthy Incentive Pilot (2008) tested price sensitivity: would a 30% EBT (Electronic Benefi t Transfer) rebate increase F&V sales? With momentum from ‘bonus value’ programs, HIP success led Congress to establish FINI (Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive, 2014). So far, 50 projects in 29 states are helping small stores, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, CSAs, mobile markets and home-delivery programs try out different incentive approaches with SNAP customers.

Certain strategies boost SNAP F&V sales: connect with farmers and locally-grown programs, build stronger capacity in small stores, and use price-reducing incentives like rebates, discounts, specials, loyalty programs, and coupons. Fresh business approaches, plus education and marketing with other concerned stakeholders, offer extraordinary promise.

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