by Pat Jones / NGAF TA Center Project Assistant
The National Grocers Association Foundation TA Center participated in the second annual Nutrition Incentive Hub National Convening on March 10 and 11. The convening served as a chance for all current and past GusNIP and FINI grantees, their partners and other interested parties to learn and connect around the world of nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs.
The year’s convening was well-attended, with 976 registrants and 125 speakers from numerous organizations across the nation. Highlights included a keynote by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who spoke about nutrition incentives in the broader context of U.S. food and agriculture policy; Nutrition Incentives 101, in which several experienced speakers, including NGA’s policy and regulatory expert Tim O’Connor, spoke about the history and importance of nutrition incentives, followed by a Q&A from the field; and Perspectives on the Future of Nutrition Incentives, in which experts, including NGA SVP of Government Relations Chris Jones, spoke of the future growth of nutrition incentives and the roles of federal, state and philanthropic funding.
The NGAF TA Center team also had a chance to host presentations on several different topics, including the following:
How Grocer Realities Collide with Nutrition Incentives: In this session, NGAF TA Center Project Manager Chelsea Matzen spoke of the considerations to keep in mind when seeking out retail partners and how the “stars must align” to forge a successful relationship. She also delved into local sourcing challenges that grocers face in meeting program percentage requirements and retail math used to price and sell product. Katie Delaney, manager of Feeding Florida, spoke of her organization’s experience in retail and highlighted the recent partnership developed with Hitchcock’s Market, a 12-store independent chain in central Florida.
Nutrition Incentives Online: In this session, expert consultants Jimmy Wright and Tim O’Connor spoke about the evolving world of Online SNAP and how nutrition incentives are being handled online. Wright spoke of his experience implementing Online SNAP with incentives at his independent grocery store, Wright’s Market in Alabama, and O’Connor spoke to the topic from a policy level.
Let’s Stop Reinventing the Wheel: This presentation was led by team members Ted Mason, Jimmy Wright and Tim O’Connor, who introduced the evolving discussion surrounding the need to standardize a core set of functionality to allow any retailer to use their existing POS system to conduct incentive transactions without additional technical implementation costs. This session offered attendees a chance to learn about a new initiative, an industry call-to-action led by NGAF TA Center, seeking to establish a working group of retailers, grantees and POS developers to establish standardized functionality for a base level of nutrition incentive transactions.
If you would like to view these sessions, you may still register for the conference and access the recordings. And as always, if you’d like to bring nutrition incentives to your store, we are here to help. Visit our website and/or email the team at [email protected].
*The NGAF TA Center addresses the challenges grocers and supermarket operators face in establishing nutrition incentive programs and is a proud partner of the Nutrition Incentive Hub. The Nutrition Incentive Hub, funded through a cooperative agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is a new resource that provides training, technical assistance, reporting and evaluation for those working to launch or expand SNAP incentives or produce prescription programs.
The Nutrition Incentive Hub is led by Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in partnership with Fair Food Network, along with a coalition of evaluators, researchers, practitioners, and grocery and farmers market experts from across the country dedicated to strengthening and uniting the best thinking in the field to increase access to affordable, healthy food to those who need it most.