Bringing Fresh Food-Purchasing Incentives to Brownsville
Building Healthy Communities
June 28, 2017
Research suggests that New Yorkers of all income levels spend approximately the same percentage of their grocery budget on produce.
As low-income New Yorkers have less spendable income, they purchase less than $450 worth of fresh produce each year, compared with wealthier New Yorkers who spend more than twice that amount. Low-income New Yorkers also report eating only two servings of fruits and vegetables daily, less than what is recommended for a healthy diet. To combat these problems in low-income neighborhoods, New York City has introduced nutrition incentive programs, such as Health Bucks, to make healthy foods more affordable for low-income consumers and encourage healthy food-buying decisions. However, relatively few low-income New Yorkers qualify for these programs. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded a grant to Public Health Solutions to pilot a year-round and more accessible incentive program to support long-term healthy shopping patterns among low-income New Yorkers.
Under this grant, Public Health Solutions assisted the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy in conducting a proof-of-concept study that benefited up to 6,000 food-insecure and/or low-income New Yorkers in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn; the North Shore of Staten Island; and the Morrisania neighborhood in the South Bronx. Households participating in the pilot were eligible for a discount of up to $10 per week on fresh fruits and vegetables at participating supermarkets. Public Health Solutions monitored and evaluated the pilot’s outcomes to see if cash incentives at supermarkets improved healthy shopping and eating behaviors among low-income New Yorkers. Findings were disseminated to stakeholders, including supermarkets, Performing Provider Systems, payers, and City and State governments.