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Incentive programs spread to farmers markets

A series of national surveys of farmers markets and farmers that participated in a coupon program last year found that incentive programs increased the fruit and vegetable consumption among those who use food stamps.

Last year’s Double Value Coupon Programs offered by Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut which dedicates itself to improving access and affordability to locally grown fresh food, were offered to more than 120 farmers markets and 1,700 farmers.

The surveys conducted by Wholesome Wave spanned more than 20 states and found that of the DVCP customers, nearly 90 percent said they increased their consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits as the DVCP supports the value of food stamp benefits for local farmers markets or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Kaiser Permanente, an Oakland, California-based nonproft healthcare organization, recently partnered with Wholesome Wave to expand its incentive program to as many as 30 farmers markets across the nation.

“This partnership between Wholesome Wave and Kaiser Permanente makes sense because our organizations have such closely aligned values and aspirations,” said Loel Solomon, vice president for community health at Kaiser Permanente. “We both believe that everyone deserves access to healthy, affordable and sustainably grown food and we know how important that is for people’s health and the health of our planet.”

Kaiser Permanente is providing $1.2 million in funding for the DVCP program expansion that will include Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Hawaii, District of Columbia, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest and Northern and Southern California.

“Wholesome Wave commends Kaiser Permanente for recognizing the importance of increasing healthy food access to underserved communities and for supporting farmers markets and local farmers as a way to achieve that goal,” said Nischan.

Incentive programs have been proven as a successful tool in motivating employees and attracting new customers. A recent study by the Incentive Research Foundation and Incentive Federation found that the majority of industries use incentive programs aimed at employees and sales channels.

The study polled 170 recognition and rewards administrators and found that pre-paid gift cards were the common method of reward as they were used by 65 percent of all firms surveyed with 26 percent saying they used pre-paid gift cards exclusively.