Health & Spirit

Rewards program encourages SNAP recipients to make healthy choices

Teresa Wiltz, on

Published in Health & Fitness

In 2016, the University of California, San Diego received a $3.4 million FINI grant to launch a similar program in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, called Mas Fresco/More Fresh.

Local community health workers, "promotoras," armed with computer tablets, go to participating grocery stores to recruit food stamp recipients in predominantly Latino communities.

Once they've signed up, the recipients use loyalty reward cards to access rebates that double the value of the money they spend on produce. Some people are randomly selected to receive even more benefits, up to $40 a month.

Last year, 1,153 food stamp recipients signed up for the program. This year, the goal is to sign up another 2,000, said Joe Prickitt, senior director of the Southern California Nutrition Incentive Program at UC San Diego Center for Community Health, which runs the program.

The program helps those who get food stamps while spurring on the local economy, providing jobs to retailers, food growers and food distributors, Prickitt said. "This is much, much bigger than just providing money to SNAP recipients."

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