- St. Louis-based Schnucks has launched a program called Double Up Food Bucks in all 56 of its Missouri stores, making it easier for low-income households to afford fresh, healthy food, according to the The Shelby Report.
- The program, which began on June 20 and runs as long as local produce is available, doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp, benefits for all local produce. SNAP customers receive a dollar-for-dollar match on local produce up to $25 a day that can be applied to fresh fruits and vegetables purchased on their next shopping visit.
- The program is made possible through a grant provided by the Mid-America Regional Council and a partnership with Fair Food Network, which also works with other grocers to run similar programs.
Schnucks new Double Up Food Bucks program is a win-win-win. It’s a win for low-income shoppers who gain increased access to more affordable fresh and healthy foods. It’s a boon for the local economy since Schnucks is aligning with local farmers to provide fresh produce for the program. And it's a win for Schnucks, which stands to gain in multiple ways, not only by creating goodwill but also attracting new shoppers into its stores. The repeat-visit component built into the reward system is also an astute business move.
People with limited funds, such as SNAP shoppers, tend to stretch their dollars by buying packaged foods — such as pasta, peanut butter and boxed or canned meals — because healthier, fresh alternatives are often seen as being too expensive. As a result, people in low-income households could find themselves at greater risk of health issues including obesity and diabetes due to a poor diet. Anything grocers can do to help stanch a health crisis is a good thing.
Local farmers supplying produce to Schnucks should see an uptick in their business as a result of the program. This keeps the local economy churning. In addition, featuring local foods, particularly fresh produce, is on trend with the farm-to-fork movement sweeping the U.S. It’s an eco-friendly and environmentally sound business practice on Schnucks’ part. Offering locally grown produce and other area goods also can help to differentiate a retailer from the store down the street.
The biggest beneficiary of the program, however, is probably the retailer itself. Schnucks stands to generate an enormous amount of goodwill and publicity around the new initiative. It’s a smart move to create this kind of awareness about its community involvement and corporate responsibility efforts. Taking this step is not only likely to attract additional government-assisted shoppers into its stores, but other consumers wanting to support the local philanthropist as well.
There are more than 44 million SNAP consumers in the U.S. According to a 2016 report from the U.S Agriculture, they spend the same amount of money as non-SNAP consumers, and on many of the same items. This includes 40 cents out of every dollar that goes toward “basic items” like meat, produce and dairy. The opportunity to increase sales with SNAP consumers seems clear, and it would not be a surprise to see other retailers following suit. What’s less certain is the future of the SNAP program, with the Trump administration threatening changes.