Cost is a major barrier to fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among families with low incomes. Last year, the NYC Health Department announced the launch of Get the Good Stuff, offering New Yorkers with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits additional purchasing power for eligible fruits, vegetables, and beans at participating supermarkets.
An innovative approach to providing healthy food
Funded by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant administered by FPHNYC, Get the Good Stuff is one of the only fully electronic nutrition incentive programs in the nation to include frozen, canned and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans in addition to fresh produce. The program launched to public excitement and widespread media coverage, including by local outlets serving Spanish and Chinese speakers. FPHNYC is proud to have put in place the systems that made it possible.
Doubling the impact to help benefits go further
Nearly 1 in 5 New Yorkers relies on SNAP to purchase food. Through Get the Good Stuff, for every $1 spent in SNAP benefits on eligible fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans, shoppers get $1 added to a program loyalty card to spend on eligible foods at their next purchase. Shoppers can earn up to $50 in incentives on their Get the Good Stuff card per day.
The program is currently available at 6 supermarkets located in in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx with the hope to expand to more as funding allows. Since the program launched at the first store in June 2019, over 4,700 households with SNAP have enrolled in the program and have redeemed more than $325,000 worth of fruit and vegetable incentives. Participants are predominantly Latino/Hispanic (48%) and Black (19%). One-third of participants report having hypertension and one in five reports having diabetes.
While shoppers experience a user-friendly loyalty card system, getting the program off the ground required extensive changes to stores’ checkout technology. FPHNYC worked with the Health Department to develop new partnerships with supermarkets and their point-of-sales (POS) vendors – which support the software used at the checkout counter – to create a fully electronic system to distribute and redeem points.
Health Department staff identified products in the stores’ inventories eligible for the incentive, and the POS vendors programmed the systems to recognize when participants use SNAP to purchase eligible items and add value to their Get the Good Stuff loyalty card. FPHNYC is continuing to provide administrative support to this program.
An inspiring start, but facing challenges ahead
In a city of 8.5 million people, six supermarkets is just a start. The program increases access to healthy food and is helping thousands of New Yorkers put more fruits and vegetables on the table.
“There was a time I couldn’t provide a healthy meal for my family because of financial needs, but ever since this program [Get the Good Stuff] came, there’s not one night that we don’t have fruits and vegetables in my house.”Get the Good Stuff participant
All six supermarkets implementing Get the Good Stuff are located in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and inequitable distribution of resources, including access to affordable, healthy food. Four of the stores are in priority neighborhoods based on high rates of COVID-related deaths, hospitalizations, and positive cases and high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension.
As the COVID-19 epidemic has placed a spotlight on food insecurity in our city, the program is looking to expand to additional supermarkets and reach more individuals, including New Yorkers with low incomes who do not qualify for SNAP.
To learn more about Get the Good Stuff and how you can support this program please contact us. If you’d like to contribute to our work, please consider donating to support innovative projects that make New York City healthier and safer for all.