The National Grocers Association (NGA) Foundation has revealed that it will help with a federal effort to increase access to healthy food for low-income consumers.
The work, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is designed so that consumers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can buy more fruits, vegetables and other products from from food retailers and farmers' markets.
“Through the program, incentives and prescriptions are offered in a variety of methods at the point of purchase,” the announcement said. “Retailers are reimbursed for the cost of the incentives and prescriptions they redeem by grantee organizations.”
The NGA Foundation will work as part of a coalition that includes the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) and Fair Food Network. The foundation “has been selected to be a sub-awardee for a federal contract to provide training and technical assistance to retailers implementing produce incentive and prescription projects,” the group said, adding that it has hired six professionals to help carry out the effort and provide that training and expertise.
“We’re pleased to have been chosen as a partner in this initiative and to have built a strong team to lead to this important nutrition incentive effort,” said Greg Ferrara, president of the foundation and CEO and president of Arlington, Va.-based NGA. “Supermarkets serve an integral role in their communities by providing a wide variety of affordable fresh and high-quality food items. Many NGA retailer members have found that programs that deliver nutrition education to make healthy food choices, combined with customer incentives, are an important resource for SNAP customers that can have a positive impact on their lives.”
The online aspect of the SNAP program has been making large strides during the pandemic, with some food retailers expanding access to the program as the federal government encourages those moves. The USDA launched its two-year online SNAP pilot in April of last year in New York state with Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite offering the program. Washington state came on board in January 2020, and the list of states has continued to grow.