Farm Bill is an opportunity to promote a healthier retail environment, new report says

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A new report says that if Congress reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of the expansive Farm Bill, policies that will improve the food retail environment and make it easier for all shoppers to buy healthy foods. It will give them an opportunity to make changes. Report released today.

SNAP is the largest nutrition assistance program in the United States, serving one in eight Americans. But while all Americans face the challenge of buying healthy food in a retail environment that disproportionately promotes unhealthy foods and drinks, retail marketing has a huge impact on shoppers who participate in SNAP. I’m giving. Researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in collaboration with researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program, are working with food and beverage industry stakeholders, SNAP participants, We convene researchers and advocates to discuss policy recommendations that promote healthy retail both in-store and online.

To improve the health of the retail environment, the report recommends 10 policy changes across six categories: Research pilots, grant programs, nutrition education, voluntary rules, recognition programs, and more.

The report’s first three recommendations include requirements that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would impose on retailers as a condition of participating in SNAP. Currently, USDA only requires participating retailers to stock 36 staple food units (basic foods that make up a significant portion of people’s diets and are prepared at home). The report recommends strengthening these purchasing standards to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and increasing the availability of healthy foods in small stores that accept SNAP. To do so, the report says, Congress would need to remove the appropriations rider that prohibits the USDA from raising stockpile requirements. An attempt by the USDA to update inventory requirements in 2016 was stalled by lobbying efforts by industry groups representing convenience stores.

“Nearly half of SNAP-eligible retail stores are convenience stores, where supplies of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products are less readily available than in traditional supermarkets,” said CSPI campaign manager and report co-author. said one Joel Johnson. “Increasing stockpile standards, combined with technical assistance and incentives from the Department of Agriculture, would be a powerful way for Congress to increase access to foods that reduce the risk of diet-related illness.”

To make it easier to shop for healthier options, the report recommends that SNAP retailers establish placement standards to place nutritious foods in prominent locations both in-store and online. ing. Currently, these high-traffic areas are primarily reserved for unhealthy products such as soda, candy, and potato chips.

The researchers also recommend funding research pilots to identify marketing interventions that adapt in-store and online retail environments to promote and incentivize healthier purchases. The report recommends that Congress appropriate $100 million to fund state-based nutrition security pilot programs. Pilots should investigate how health food marketing interventions impact food purchasing and consumption, retailer participation and feasibility, and unintended consequences, the report says. . To date, the Department of Agriculture has only funded one such pilot program, a successful incentive program in Massachusetts that aims to provide financial incentives when purchasing fruits and vegetables. Established the evidence base for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP).

Given the effectiveness of GusNIP, the authors recommend that Farm Bill negotiators expand nutrition incentives and encourage retailer participation and healthy marketing through GusNIP. The report says the program has proven effective in increasing fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP participants, but more funding is needed to meet the program’s demands. The report recommends increasing GusNIP funding and waiving existing matching requirements for grant applicants.

“The retail food environment, both in-store and online, is an important determinant of food and beverage choices, diet quality, and ultimately diet-related health outcomes,” said Julia, associate professor at Johns University. Wolfson said. Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-author of this report. “As lawmakers pass farm bills through Congress, they should prioritize opportunities to promote a healthier shopping environment for everyone, especially those receiving SNAP services.”

The current Farm Bill expired on September 30th.

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