The National Grocers Association Foundation has been named as a sub-awardee for a federal contract to provide training and technical assistance to retailers implementing produce incentive and prescription projects.
The NGA Foundation said yesterday that its Technical Assistance Center will be tasked with collecting information on the incentive instruments in now use, their advantages and disadvantages and the costs involved in each. The center also will share best practices for implementation to facilitate adoption at retail.
Besides the NGA Foundation, the effort includes a coalition of partners, led by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) and Fair Food Network, and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI).
GusNIP provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants and low-income customers experiencing diet-related health conditions with incentives to step up their purchase of fruit and vegetables at food retailers and farmers markets. Through the GusNIP, incentives and prescriptions are offered in various methods at the point of purchase, and retailers are reimbursed for the cost of the incentives and prescriptions they redeem by grantee organizations.
“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,” Greg Ferrara (left), president of the NGA Foundation and president and CEO of NGA, said in a statement.
The NGA Foundation noted that it has hired dedicated staff and expert consultants to establish the Technical Assistance Center and support training and technical assistance services. Team members include Ted Mason as project director; Chelsea Matzen as project manager; Patrick Jones as project assistant; and Kate Fitzgerald, Tim O’Connor and Jimmy Wright as consultant project consultants.
“Supermarkets serve an integral role in their communities by providing a wide variety of affordable fresh and high-quality food items,” Ferrara added. “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.”
NGA said GusNIP, formerly known as FINI, was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to support projects that incentivize the purchase of fruit and vegetables for consumers participating in SNAP. The program is a joint effort between the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The 2018 Farm Bill permanently reauthorized GusNIP and provides $250 million in funding from 2019 to 2023.