Independent Store News Southeast

Hitchcock’s Markets Roll Out Nutrition Incentives In North Central Florida

NGA TA Center

Hitchcock’s Markets has partnered with the Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program in Florida, under the non-profit Feeding Florida food bank network, to offer nutrition incentives.

The FAB program has partnered with farmers markets in Florida since 2013 to give Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers a discount on fruits and vegetables through nutrition incentives with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Over the past year, FAB has focused on extending its reach to brick-and-mortar stores for further impact and has implemented programs in several different retail locations. Hitchcock’s is its first partnership with an independent grocery chain. Hitchcock’s is a family-owned, 12-store chain based in North Central Florida, with the program currently running in 11 of its 12 stores.

“Helping out our community is the biggest thing. We are very connected to our community. We know our customers,” said Giselle Alvarez, VP of operations at Hitchcock’s.

This company mission led Alvarez and the Hitchcock’s team to establish a connection with Katie Delaney, co-manager of the FAB program. The focus of Delaney’s team has been “rural communities and places where folks have difficulty getting fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Hitchcock’s meets all of our requirements. Working with Hitchcock’s has been a dream as they really care about their community.”

Delaney credits the National Grocers Association Foundation Technical Assistance Center (NGAF TA Center) for helping bring FAB together with Hitchcock’s Markets and work through technical requirements at the point of sale.

“The connection blossomed under leadership of NGAF,” Delaney said, noting the NGAF TA Center team was able to offer technology options to handle the incentive transactions. “FAB has three other retailers, but this is the first time we have been able to take a POS system and use it as an umbrella [for multiple stores].”

The program was implemented under a model in which SNAP customers receive coupons for up to $10 toward fresh fruits and vegetables. If the customer spends more than $10 in SNAP, they receive $10 in fruits and vegetables. For purchases less than $10, they receive a direct match in Fresh Access Bucks. Hitchcock’s Markets is fully reimbursed by FAB for all incentives redeemed by SNAP shoppers.

Both Hitchcock’s and Feeding Florida feel that this work is more important than ever.

“The timeliness of this launch is relevant given the new number of SNAP recipients and the need in Florida. The need is greater right now, and it’s very relevant to bring this across the state at this moment,” said Meghan Fiveash, FAB’s communications coordinator. Alvarez agrees, noting how the coupons are specifically to be used for healthy foods, which might help change customer behavior for years to come.

“With everything going on in the world,” Alvarez said, “it’s good to know you are giving customers the possibility to change their eating habits after the pandemic is over.”

To learn more about nutrition incentives and how to bring them to your store, visit ngaftacenter.org/.

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