ShopRite has launched a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded incentive program at selected stores to boost low-income families’ access to milk and dairy products.
Called “Add Milk!,” the campaign augments the purchasing power of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars that SNAP recipients spend on milk and other dairy products. The initiative is being piloted by Baylor University’s Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty with support from the USDA.
Add Milk! works as follows: When ShopRite SNAP customers buy skim or 1% milk with their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, a dollar paper coupon is generated for each dollar spent. The coupon then can be used on their next dairy purchase, and any dairy product can be redeemed that lists fluid cow’s milk or cream as a first ingredient, such as yogurt and cheese.
Keasbey, N.J.-based ShopRite noted that Add Milk! can help consumers stretch their dollars to purchase more nutritious foods at a time when price inflation is squeezing families at the grocery store.
In May, the Consumer Price Index for dairy and related products rose 2.9%, its biggest monthly increase since July 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Year over year, dairy pricing was up 11.8% in May.
“ShopRite is proud to take part in a program that helps families get the food they want and need for their families,” Neil Greenstein, owner and operator of the ShopRite of Newark (N.J.), a participant in Add Milk!, said in a statement. Greenstein’s store also served as the setting for the recent kick-off of the campaign. “We know that milk and dairy provide important and essential nutrients for children, and we believe the Add Milk! incentive will make it easier for families, especially those struggling with food insecurity, to access those important foods,” he added.
Besides ShopRite of Newark, other stores engaged in the Add Milk! pilot include ShopRite of East Orange, ShopRite of Kearny and ShopRite of Hillside (West Hillside) in New Jersey.
Other ShopRite locations in New Jersey are slated to launch the program later this summer, including stores in Elizabeth, Bayonne, Jersey City and the Columbia Park store in North Bergen.
“USDA is committed to prioritizing nutrition security, which includes consistent access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages that promote good health, such as milk,” stated Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This innovative program is an excellent example of collaborative action with our partners that uses incentives to encourage SNAP households to purchase and consume more milk—a win-win for promoting healthy diets and supporting American agriculture.”
According to the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, 90% of Americans don’t meet the recommended amounts for dairy consumption.
“Milk is one of our healthiest, safest, and most sustainable beverages, and it is essential for a child’s development,” noted Dr. Lori Kanitz, project director at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “The Add Milk! Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive program could not come at a better time. With families feeling the pinch of rising prices and the lingering effects of the pandemic, the USDA’s commitment to keeping kids healthy through the Add Milk! program makes milk more affordable for those who need it most.”
Specifically, the Add Milk! effort aims to increase the purchase and consumption of fluid cow’s milk, which promotes proper child brain and bone development, provides a natural source of protein and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, participants said.
“We applaud the collaboration among USDA, Baylor University and ShopRite to bring healthy, nutritious milk options to SNAP participants in New Jersey as part of the Add Milk! Program,” commented Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, who spoke at ShopRite’s launch of the program. “Milk contributes 13 nutrients to the American diet, including high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, and health benefits including better bone health and lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The Add Milk! Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive program should be viewed as a positive model for strengthening the health and wellness of children and adults participating in SNAP in cities and states across the country.”