In a bid to better serve its communities and reduce food insecurity, Albertsons Cos. has moved to accept supplemental health benefits, including pre-paid cards funded by Medicare Advantage plans, employer incentives, healthcare providers or local governments, for fresh produce and over-the-counter medication purchases.
“We are committed to offering solutions that deliver access to healthy produce and meals, reduce food insecurity and provide solutions for chronic condition management,” said Omer Gajial, EVP of pharmacy and health at Albertsons. “Using supplemental benefits enables shoppers to conveniently shop for fresh food and over-the-counter medications contributing to their overall health and well-being.”
The benefit program will be made possible through technology partnerships, including one with payments platform Solutran. The company’s S3 platform allows eligible cardholders to use their pre-paid benefits in-store, and also makes it possible for the grocer to accept Fresh Bucks, a local government supplemental program in Seattle.
“Albertsons Companies stores are a very popular shopping destination for millions of Medicare Advantage members using the Solutran S3 benefits platform,” said Mike Rahman, Solutran president. “This year, the platform will issue approximately $5 billion in food and over-the-counter benefits.”
Other grocers and municipalities are actively broadening their supplemental benefits programs, including Price Rite Marketplace stores and Cardenas and Cardenas Ranch Markets locations, which are now accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (EBT SNAP) payments for groceries via Instacart.
The city of Boston Mayor’s Office of Food Access allocated $93,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan to support a program that allows SNAP participants to use their EBT cards to buy groceries online through the nonprofit grocer Daily Table. In a similar move, the state of New Jersey recently enacted its Food Desert Relief Act, which, among other benefits, helps food retailers respond to the shift to e-commerce, including for SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 400 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. It operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under more than 20 well-known banners, among them Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. Albertsons is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.