The National Grocers Association (NGA) and FMI-The Food Industry Association have released an open letter to food retailers, grocery wholesalers, national and state associations, and nutrition incentive program providers, requesting them to unite behind a new initiative to collaborate with point-of-sale (POS) system developers in creating retail transaction and reporting solutions for nutrition incentive programs.
“We encourage all industry leaders to consider signing on to this call to action expressing your interest in the creation of industry-wide POS solutions for nutrition incentive transactions,” said Ted Mason, project director for the NGA Foundation Technical Assistance Center (NGAF TAC). “We hope our leaders will step up to help educate fellow retailers, wholesalers and POS developers about nutrition incentives and the need for industry-wide POS solutions for nutrition incentive transactions.”
Nutrition incentive programs provide additional food dollars to help low-income shoppers purchase a greater amount of fruits and vegetables. The two program types that the center focuses on are SNAP incentives and produce prescriptions.
“We want to ensure that SNAP retailers can offer innovative services to all their customers, including redemption options for SNAP benefits, whether in store or online,” noted Hannah Walker, VP of political affairs at Arlington, Virginia-based FMI. “It is essential that we continue to advance technology to support all our shoppers’ health and well-being goals.”
Since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, federal nutrition incentive programs have risen in popularity across the country. In recent years, the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program has enabled the expansion of nutrition incentives, and there has been a greater focus on programs for retailers to provide free or discounted produce to SNAP clients or low-income people with certain diagnosed health conditions.
According to the trade organizations, however, methodologies to conduct nutrition incentive transactions are often difficult and expensive to implement at the POS, thus hindering the expansion of programs to more retail food stores. NGA and FMI believe that common POS transaction capabilities are needed instead of myriad inefficient one-off individual solutions.
The federally funded NGAF TAC, in collaboration with the Nutrition Incentive Hub, wants to facilitate meetings during which POS system developers, food retailers, associations and nutrition incentive program stakeholders work together to develop comprehensive nutrition incentive POS transaction solutions. Created by the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Center, the Nutrition Incentive Hub is a coalition of partners supporting nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects.
Arlington-based NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. The independent grocery sector is accountable for nearly 1% of the nation’s overall economy and responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members encompass retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, and manufacturers and service suppliers.