Florida grocer Hitchcock’s Markets is serving up savings to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers via a partnership with the USDA-funded Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) nutrition incentive program and the Feeding Florida food bank network.
Under the program, SNAP recipients get coupons for up to $10 toward fresh fruit and vegetables. Hitchcock’s shoppers who spend more than $10 in SNAP food purchases receive a $10 credit for fruit and vegetables, while for transactions of less than $10 they get a direct match in Fresh Access Bucks. The retailer is fully reimbursed by FAB for all incentives redeemed by SNAP shoppers.
Hitchcock’s represents FAB’s first partnership with an independent grocery chain. The family-owned retailer, based in Alachua, Fla., is currently offering the FAB program in 11 of its 12 supermarkets, which are located primarily in northern Florida.
“Helping out our community is the biggest thing. We are very connected to our community. We know our customers,” Giselle Alvarez, vice president of operations at Hitchcock’s Markets, said in a statement.
The National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF) Technical Assistance Center helped bring Hitchcock’s together with FAB and work through technical requirements at the point of sale, according to the NGA Foundation. Over the past year, FAB has focused on extending its reach to brick-and-mortar stores. It current partners with three other grocers in Florida: Sunflower Discount Market in Fort Myers, Wright's Natural Market in New Port Richey and LeGrand Caribbean Market in Immokalee.
“The connection blossomed under leadership of NGAF,” commented Katie Delaney, co-manager of the FAB program, adding that the NGAF TA Center team offered technology options to handle the incentive transactions. “FAB has three other retailers, but this is the first time we have been able to take a POS system and use it as an umbrella [for multiple stores].”
FAB has focused on “rural communities and places where folks have difficulty getting fresh fruits and vegetables,” according to Delaney. “Hitchcock’s meets all of our requirements,” she said. “Working with Hitchcock’s has been a dream, as they really care about their community.”
The fact that the FAB coupons are earmarked for healthy food purchases can help change customer behavior, Alvarez pointed out. “With everything going on in the world, it’s good to know you are giving customers the possibility to change their eating habits after the pandemic is over,” she added.
Meghan Fiveash, FAB’s communications coordinator, noted that the Hitchcock’s launch of the program is timely, given the new number of SNAP recipients and need in Florida. “The need is greater right now,” she stated, “and it’s very relevant to bring this across the state at this moment.”