Nutrition Incentive Programs Give Low-Income Consumers Better Access to Healthy Food

Policy brief outlines case for public support and NH expansion //

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly called food stamps), is a long-established, well-known federally funded nutrition program that helps millions of low-income individuals and families buy groceries. One in nine families in the United States benefit from participation in the program. Approximately six percent of New Hampshire families receive SNAP benefits.

Much less well-known is the USDA grant-funded Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program which supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

Nutrition incentives double the value of fresh produce purchased by SNAP shoppers, dollar for dollar. For example, buying $20 worth of healthy, locally grown produce costs SNAP shoppers half of that, just $10.

Nutrition incentives are a powerful way to increase the amount of healthy foods available to low-income families and individuals in New Hampshire, while also providing an economic boost to local farms and food businesses.

The case for expanding incentive programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of food insecurity for many in the state and provided new challenges for local food providers and businesses.

A policy brief released by the New Hampshire Food Alliance outlines the case for supporting and expanding existing nutrition incentive programs in New Hampshire. It recommends new policies, funding streams, and collaborative efforts to improve health outcomes for vulnerable children and families and strengthen markets for New Hampshire-grown food.

Nutrition incentives in New Hampshire have been supported since 2015 by a combination of federal grants and private philanthropic matching funds.

Granite State Market Match, coordinated by the New Hampshire Food Bank, offers SNAP incentives at 50 farmers’ markets, benefiting 326 farms, and reaching more than 5,000 SNAP customers per year. Double Up Food Bucks, an initiative led by national nonprofit Fair Food Network, coordinates nutrition incentives at 19 retail stores in New Hampshire. Double Up reaches approximately 7,000 SNAP shoppers each year and the program is expanding.

Seven recommendations developed by the New Hampshire Food Alliance Food Access Policy Team are intended to guide New Hampshire Food Alliance network partners and allies in their collaborative efforts to ensure equitable food access for all and to support local farms and food businesses. The recommendations will also inform policy makers and planners at the municipal and state levels interested in promoting food security and a strong local food economy.

Recommendations include:

  1. Secure sustainable funding for Granite State Market Match and Double Up Food Bucks.
  2. Expand the number of retail outlets and markets that participate in SNAP and the two incentive programs.
  3. Address transportation barriers by bringing food to where people are.
  4. Expand education and outreach efforts to support SNAP and nutrition incentive program utilization.
  5. Explore opportunities to expand nutrition programs that make locally grown food available to people in need who may not participate in SNAP.
  6. Streamline and expand enrollment and outreach for SNAP and other food assistance programs.
  7. Expand SNAP eligibility requirements so that more working families can participate and increase monthly benefits to support families during the COVID -19 pandemic.

The New Hampshire Food Alliance Access Policy Team is comprised of representatives of Fair Food Network, New Hampshire Food Bank, Nashua Food Council, New Hampshire Food Alliance, Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) and New Hampshire Hunger Solutions. This work is funded by the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation.

Read the full policy brief >