SpartanNash plans SNAP incentive pilot

June 25, 2014

Source: The Packer
Author: Pamela Riemenschneider

CHICAGO — Starting Aug. 1, three SpartanNash stores plan to implement a pilot program to encourage produce purchases through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

The East Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer partnered with the Fair Food Network on its Double Up Food Bucks program, which matches up to $10 fresh produce purchases with a $10 gift card good for Michigan-grown produce.

SNAP incentive programs have been popular additions to farmers markets over the past several years, but organizations like the Fair Food Network have looked for ways to reach a wider audience, said Oran Hesterman, president and chief executive officer.

“These farmers market pilot programs are all over the country,” Hesterman said. “Now they’re getting scaled up into retail.”

The Fair Food Network trialed the Double Up Food Bucks program at three independent grocers in Detroit last year with strong results. The group issued $10 gift cards to customers who purchased $10 in fresh produce with their SNAP card.

“Seventy-eight percent of the cards that were distributed were redeemed,” Hesterman said. “Nearly half of the total funds allocated were redeemed and 88% of the customers surveyed said they were buying more fruits and vegetables.”

SpartanNash sees a big opportunity to convert more SNAP purchases to fresh produce, said Brian Haaraoja, the retailer’s vice president of produce merchandising.

“We felt it fit in perfectly with our health and wellness initiatives,” he said. “This will help give (SNAP customers) extra produce items and stretch their food dollars.”

SpartanNash plans to tie the incentives to its loyalty card, which will match dollar-for-dollar, up to $10 per trip, produce purchases. The incentives will be available on a SNAP customer’s store loyalty card to for purchasing Michigan-grown produce.

SpartanNash awaits U.S. Department of Agriculture final approval for the pilot in the three stores chosen, and plans to run the program four months starting Aug. 1.

First posted at The Packer on June 18, 2014.