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Daily Table customer-produce prescription-NGA TA Center video.png NGA Foundation Technical Assistance Center
A Daily Table customer shops fresh fruit after receiving a produce prescription through the USDA's Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP).

NGA teams with grocers in ‘food as medicine’ video projects

Daily Table, Stop & Shop highlight ‘produce prescriptions’ for food insecure consumers

To promote the notion of “food as medicine,” the National Grocers Association Foundation Technical Assistance Center (NGAF TA Center) has partnered with supermarket chains Daily Table and Stop & Shop to create testimonial and informational videos.

NGA said Tuesday that the videos will highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), including “produce prescriptions” (PPRs) from health care providers to help consumers address food insecurity and improve their health. Both Daily Table and Stop & Shop also have teamed up with Boston-based nonprofit About Fresh to promote the nutritional and wellness benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Under the project, the NGAF TA Center has developed two videos, one that explains GusNIP produce prescriptions and another that looks at the idea of food as medicine. The GusNIP video features Daily Table Chief Operating Officer Michael Malmberg and a customer receiving a produce prescription through the program. In the other video, Stop & Shop Community Relations Director Jennifer Brogan and Registered Dietitian Christine Sinclair discuss the food-as-medicine movement. 

Both videos also spotlight the NGAF TA Center as a resource for grocery retailers.

“This partnership has made a huge impact for our community,” according to Malmberg of nonprofit grocer Daily Table, which has three locations in the Boston-area neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Cambridge. “We’ve had a lot of customers say they’re able to afford more fresh produce, stretch their budgets a lot further and feel better, eat healthier, and that it’s overall an amazing program.”

Daily Table, the business name of Dorchester, Mass.-based Urban Food Initiative, has been running a PPR project for several months with About Fresh and noted not just the benefits to customers but also pluses for the stores.

“You really stand out in the marketplace with a unique offering, and it’s the right thing to do in helping our community afford more fresh produce,” Malmberg explained.

In late January, Stop & Shop announced it has implemented About Fresh’s Fresh Connect program to give food insecure customers access to prepaid debit cards “prescribed” by health care providers to purchase fresh produce.

Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, has enabled the Fresh Connect program at over 100 stores in eastern Massachusetts. Plans call for Fresh Connect — piloted initially at Stop & Shop’s Grove Hall store in Dorchester, Mass. — to roll out to the chain’s 400-plus stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey by early spring.

“This is the first of many programs we’re going to use, and innovate, and try to drive healthier sales and help our customers live healthier lives,” Brogan stated. “We really hope that others in the industry join us in this effort.”

Through the initiative, health care teams can prescribe food insecure patients who participate in or are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid — and whose health conditions could be improved by eating more fresh produce — with a prepaid Fresh Connect debit card for buying fruit and vegetables at participating stores. The stores are fully reimbursed by About Fresh for all qualifying purchases redeemed by PPR patients.

“The grocery store is the cornerstone of the community, and it’s a part of the way we should be giving back — and can be giving back — in helping folks gain access to healthier foods,” Brogan said in the video.

GusNIP was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill for fiscal years 2019 to 2023, with funding from $45 million to $56 million to be appropriated over five years. Besides produce prescriptions, grants include nutrition incentives to aid purchases of fruit and vegetables SNAP recipients as well as cooperative agreements to offer training, technical assistance, evaluation and informational support services to nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects.

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