OPELIKA, Ala. — A nutrition incentive program that helps low-income families purchase healthy fluid milk products is expanding across Alabama. The Add Milk! program is being launched by the Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) and select retailers to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, when they purchase low-fat or non-fat milk.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded HSI a $3 million cooperative agreement in October 2022 to expand Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive (HFMI) Projects to more than 116 retail locations throughout Alabama, California, Georgia and South Dakota. A press conference held today at Wright’s Market in Opelika, Alabama, marked the launch of the HFMI project, Add Milk!, at 19 participating stores across the state of Alabama.
“Expanding the SNAP Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects means greater access to affordable, nutritious dairy products for the most vulnerable Americans,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO of International Dairy Foods Association. “Consuming milk and its 13 essential nutrients is linked to healthy immune function, hydration, cognition, mental health, bone health, and lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. During this time of chronic food insecurity, it’s critical that we find ways to stretch the SNAP dollar further in support of the purchase of nutrient-dense foods. We’re pleased to see the Add Milk! program expand to support the approximately 1 in 7 Alabama residents who participate in SNAP.”
The HFMI pilot program was established as part of the 2018 Farm Bill to promote milk as part of a healthy, balanced diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Overall, Americans are consuming less milk. Low-fat milk is an important part of a healthy diet, and health researchers have warned these declines over time could have health impacts on future generations. Studies have shown that incentive programs, like Add Milk!, increase purchase and consumption of the incentivized food. HFMI pilot projects will be operating in more than 150 locations across 6 states by the end of 2023, and Congress increased funding for the program in FY2023 to expand it to more stores and more locations in the coming years.
“USDA is thrilled to see the launch of our Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive project through the collaborative efforts of Auburn University and dedicated local retailers,” said Cindy Long, administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. “The Add Milk! Program is bringing healthy, nutritious milk options to SNAP consumers and driving economic development in underserved communities. It is a win-win for both participants and America’s dairy farmers. We further thank the International Dairy Food Association for their support of the project and today’s event.”
“Hunger Solutions Institute is thrilled to expand its leadership of nutrition incentive programs throughout Alabama and to other states in its leadership of Add Milk!” said Alicia Powers, managing director of Auburn’s Hunger Solutions Institute. “Nutrition incentive programs, like Add Milk!, are important in helping SNAP households access healthy foods by not only providing financial incentives but also by collaborating with local, independent retailers who already provide incredible customer service to SNAP households. Through strategic promotion, rigorous evaluation, and strong partners, Hunger Solutions Institute is honored to lead a nationwide launch of Add Milk!”
“SNAP incentive programs for nutritious foods like dairy, fruits, vegetables have the potential to make a real impact on the diets of SNAP participants and grocers’ connection with communities across the United States,” said Stephanie Johnson, RDN, vice president, government relations of the National Grocers Association (NGA). “NGA is pleased to see HFMI projects continue to expand to more independent grocers and stretch the SNAP dollar further for the purchase of nutritious dairy foods.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent most of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.