Hitchcock’s Markets Roll Out Nutrition Incentives in North Central Florida

Arlington, VA – Hitchcock’s Markets has partnered with the Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program in Florida, under the non-profit Feeding Florida food bank network, to offer nutrition incentives.

The Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program has partnered with farmers markets in Florida since 2013 to give Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers a discount on fruits and vegetables through nutrition incentives with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Over the past year, FAB has focused on extending its reach to brick and mortar stores for further impact and has implemented programs in several different retail locations. Hitchcock’s is its first partnership with an independent grocery chain. Hitchcock’s is a family-owned, 12-store chain, based in North Central Florida with a commitment to its customers and their communities, with the program currently running in 11 of their 12 stores.

“Helping out our community is the biggest thing. We are very connected to our community. We know our customers,” said Giselle Alvarez, vice president of operations at Hitchcock’s.

This company mission led Alvarez and the Hitchcock’s team to establish a connection with Katie Delaney, co-manager of the FAB program. The focus of Delaney’s team has been “rural communities and places where folks have difficulty getting fresh fruits and vegetables,” she explained. “Hitchcock’s meets all of our requirements. Working with Hitchcock’s has been a dream as they really care about their community.”

Delaney credits the National Grocers Association Foundation Technical Assistance Center (NGAF TA Center) for helping bring FAB together with Hitchcock’s Markets and work through technical requirements at the point of sale (POS). “The connection blossomed under leadership of NGAF,” Delaney said, noting the NGAF TA Center team was able to offer technology options to handle the incentive transactions. “FAB has three other retailers, but this is the first time we have been able to take a POS system and use it as an umbrella [for multiple stores].”

The program was implemented under a model in which SNAP customers receive coupons for up to $10 toward fresh fruits and vegetables. If the customer spends more than $10 in SNAP, they receive $10 in fruits and vegetables. For purchases less than $10, they receive a direct match in Fresh Access Bucks. Hitchcock’s Markets is fully reimbursed by FAB for all incentives redeemed by SNAP shoppers.

Both Hitchcock’s and Feeding Florida feel that this work is more important than ever. “The timeliness of this launch is relevant given the new number of SNAP recipients and the need in Florida. The need is greater right now, and it’s very relevant to bring this across the state at this moment,” said Meghan Fiveash, FAB’s communications coordinator. Alvarez agrees, noting how the coupons are specifically to be used for healthy foods, which might help change customer behavior for years to come.

“With everything going on in the world,” Alvarez said, “it’s good to know you are giving customers the possibility to change their eating habits after the pandemic is over.”

To learn more about nutrition incentives and how to bring them to your store, visit https://www.ngaftacenter.org/.

About the NGA Foundation Technical Assistance Center

As a proud partner of the Nutrition Incentive Hub, the TA Center helps address the challenges grocers and supermarket operators face in establishing nutrition incentive programs. The TA Center is a resource for grocers and supermarket operators across the country and there are no fees or NGA membership requirements for use of TA Center services.

About the NGA Foundation

The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers.

About Hitchcock’s Markets 

Hitchcock’s Markets is a family owned and operated chain of grocery stores based out of Alachua, Florida. Since 1945, Hitchcock’s has recognized the need for rural towns in Central Florida to have clean, well-stocked, and service-driven food stores. The Hitchcock’s company has continued to grow over the years to locations across the state of Florida, providing full service grocery stores in many towns that used to be considered food deserts. Today, Hitchcock’s has 12 stores and two pharmacies. Hitchcock’s prides itself in having the best meats and butchers in town and being a place where locals can count on the highest quality products, competitive prices, clean stores, and well trained and knowledgeable employees. For more information about Hitchcock’s, visit www.myhitchcocks.com

About Fresh Access Bucks

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) is a USDA-funded statewide nutrition incentive program that increases the purchasing power of SNAP recipients to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, produce stands, CSAs, mobile markets, and community grocery outlets. FAB’s approach to addressing food access, affordability, and nutrition education aims to work with the entire food system, from producer to consumer, to build healthy, resilient communities supported by robust local food systems.

For more information about the Fresh Access Bucks program, visit www.FreshAccessBucks.com.

About Feeding Florida

Feeding Florida is the state’s premier organization in the fight to end hunger. The statewide network of food banks distributes food directly to families in need through over 2,300 local charitable agencies, providing a healthy, adequate, and consistent food supply to every community, every day.

Feeding Florida’s 12-member food banks include: All Faiths Food Bank, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc., Bread of the Mighty, Feeding Northeast Florida, Feeding South Florida, Feeding Tampa Bay, Feeding the Gulf Coast, First Step Food Bank, Florida Gateway Food Bank, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and Treasure Coast Food Bank.

About NGA

The National Grocers Association (NGA) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for close to 1 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.

About the Nutrition Incentive Hub

The Nutrition Incentive Hub is a coalition of partners, created by the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program National Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation and Information Center (GusNIP NTAE Center), that supports nutrition incentive projects, including SNAP incentives, and produce prescription projects. The GusNIP NTAE Center is led by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. In partnership with Fair Food Network, they assembled the Nutrition Incentive Hub, a coalition of evaluators, researchers, practitioners, and grocery and farmers market experts from across the country dedicated to strengthening and uniting the best thinking in the field to increase access to affordable, healthy food for those who need it most. The GusNIP NTAE Center is funded through a cooperative agreement and supported by Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant No. 2019-70030-30415/project accession no. 1020863 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Learn more at https://www.nutritionincentivehub.org