FMI Gives Consumer Service Award to USDA Official
Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has presented its 2018 Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service to Andrea Gold, director of the retailer policy and management division, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
The presentation took place at FMI’s State Issues Retreat, an annual conference that unites food retailer associations and grocery company government relations professionals from across the country to discuss key state and local legislative and regulatory issues.
For more than 20 years, Gold has helped food retailers serve SNAP consumers, particularly during emergencies or natural disasters. As part of Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Response Framework, she assists the the retail food industry in giving SNAP nutrition assistance to those in crisis during such situations, via USDA’s FNS. In her current role, which she has held since 2010, Gold oversees both retailer and issuance policy, and manages the systems that permit SNAP to license and monitor 260,000-plus participating firms.
“Andrea is literally the calm in a storm and a source of order in the midst of chaos,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “When confronted with a crisis, she and her team work with speed and efficiency to provide sustenance to victims of a natural disaster when they find themselves suddenly, and often critically, in need of the very basics of food and water. Andrea remains a front-line resource to states and food retailers when a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) and related options are in place, and we’re grateful for her leadership.”
As well as supporting low-income communities recovering from disasters, Gold heads efforts to expand SNAP consumer access to food. Examples of this are the upcoming online purchasing pilot that will enable SNAP consumers to order and pay for food over the internet for the first time, and introducing incentives to provide greater access to healthy foods at SNAP-authorized retailers and farmers’ markets.
Additionally, she has worked with colleagues to consolidate the retailer operations functions once handled by seven FNS regional offices into a single national organization, and to further streamline aspects of the SNAP authorization process for retailers with a number of stores participating in the program. Throughout her career, she has worked to ensure the security of SNAP benefits and reduce fraud in the program, and she continues to improve SNAP by introducing efficiencies to the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system.
“In the spirit of award namesake Esther Peterson, Gold is devoted to finding solutions to critical SNAP customer issues, serving grocery customers whenever a need arises – often after hours and on weekends,” said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI’s chief public policy officer, SVP, government relations, who presented the award to Gold. “She strives to make the program more efficient for food retailers and create a seamless payment experience for the grocery shopper.”
Peterson, the inspiration for the annual honor, was special assistant for consumer affairs under U.S. presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, and pioneered the role for the food industry as VP for consumer affairs at Landover, Md.-based Giant Food Inc.