Washington to Test New Way to Encourage Healthy Eating in SNAP
SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2023 – Today, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service announced that Washington will receive $7.6 million to test out a new model for incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. Colorado, Louisiana, and Washington will receive a total of $25 million as well as federal support to establish and operate an electronic healthy incentives pilot (eHIP) intended to streamline incentives and make it easier for SNAP households to access the healthy foods necessary for lifelong health and well-being.
Each of the pilot states will upgrade its SNAP system so incentive dollars can be loaded directly onto participants’ Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The eHIP pilots aim to test incentive models that reduce administrative costs, allowing more incentive dollars to reach SNAP participants. Washington’s project targets communities with low-income/low access, rural, tribal, persistent poverty counties, high SNAP caseload, aging, young, and culturally diverse populations. SNAP participants who purchase a qualifying fruit or vegetable using SNAP benefits will receive 100% of the qualifying purchase back onto their EBT card which can be redeemed for a subsequent purchase of any SNAP eligible food, up to $50 per month. The project is expected to launch in January 2024.
“USDA is committed to ensuring every family has access to affordable, nutritious foods.” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “We applaud the selected states for stepping up and partnering with us to test and ultimately improve SNAP incentive programs. Together we will learn more about what works and pave the way for similar programs across the country.”
Research shows that SNAP incentive programs are an effective way to promote healthy eating and improve nutrition security. One study showed that SNAP participants who received fruit and vegetable incentives consumed 26% more fruits and vegetables per day than nonparticipants. Increased demand for fruits and vegetables also helps strengthen the food supply chain.
"Access to healthy food such as fresh fruits and vegetables has never been more important as food costs continue to rise across the country,” said Jilma Meneses, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. “We are thrilled to receive this grant, which allows us to continue developing innovative ways to boost food security and ensure Washingtonians have the nutrition assistance they need and deserve.”
In addition to state-level projects, more and more local partners are implementing innovative SNAP healthy incentive programs. Offering incentives not only attracts SNAP customers to local stores but also gives stores the opportunity to have a positive impact in their community — making healthy foods more affordable for American families. State, local and tribal governments, SNAP-authorized retailers, and non-profit or for-profit organizations interested in launching a SNAP healthy incentive program can learn more and apply on the FNS website. Incentive programs can operate at a single location or across multiple stores.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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