AARP Foundation Awarded $3 Million Grant from USDA
UnitedHealthcare to Provide an Additional $1 Million to Support Affordable Access to Healthy Food
JACKSON, Miss. – (April 1, 2015) – Today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program, awarded AARP Foundation a grant of $3.3 million, with an additional $1 million coming from UnitedHealthcare to implement a multi-year $6.6 million incentive program in Tennessee and Mississippi to increase the purchase and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. The goal of this program is to increase the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables and to improve nutrition and health outcomes for low-income consumers.
“We are very pleased to receive this generous grant from USDA that underscores AARP Foundation’s important work Foundation’s important work to assure all Americans can afford nutritious food and lead productive, healthful lives,” said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. “I would also like to thank our friends at UnitedHealthcare, the Tennessee and Mississippi state agencies and Kroger Co. for their support, because multi-sector collaboration is crucial for solving senior hunger.”
“Mississippi ranks 21.1% higher than the national average for food insecurity in the United States,” said Jocelyn C. Carter, CEO UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi, the company’s Medicaid business. “We won’t let the trend continue and are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the AARP Foundation to invest in programs that support access to healthy and affordable food in the state.”
Encouraging more nutritious diets is focus in the health care industry, which recognizes better nutrition as a disease prevention and health promotion measure. AARP Foundation agrees with this view and believes making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible is particularly important for older adults who are living with limited or fixed incomes.
The partnerships created by the FINI program will move forward AARP Foundation’s priority to define food insecurity as a health issue. It leverages the food supply chain to provide access to more affordable, healthful food for vulnerable groups and increases sales – a winning proposition for farmers, food distributors, retailers and consumers, and the U.S. economy as a whole.
AARP Foundation’s partnerships with a large U.S. retail grocer and a major health insurance provider, the innovative program design, and substantial state and local support create high potential for expansion. A robust evaluation to be conducted by Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University will report results for incentive and control groups for all SNAP recipients, as well as data for adults that are 50 years or older, providing concrete information to guide future programs.
Beginning in September of 2015, SNAP recipients will be able to take advantage of this incentive program at select Kroger’s stores and farmers markets. For every $10 a SNAP consumer spends on fresh fruits and vegetables at select Kroger’s, they will receive a coupon for 50 percent off the next purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, with a maximum coupon value of $10 and limit of two ($20) per month. At select farmers markets, when a SNAP customer uses an SNAP benefit card, he or she will receive an amount of incentive tokens equal to the amount purchased with a maximum value of $10 that can only be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. AARP Foundation is contracting with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization with a track record of establishing incentive programs, to provide training and technical assistance to farmers markets and assist with implementation of the outreach plan.
About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. By coordinating responses to these issues on all four fronts at once, and supporting them with vigorous legal advocacy, the Foundation serves the unique needs of those 50+ while working with local organizations nationwide to reach more people, strengthen communities, work more efficiently and make resources go further. AARP Foundation is AARP’s affiliated charity. Learn more at www.aarpfoundation.org.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 850,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare serves 45 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.