Pilot Healthy Savings™ for low income families by Minnesota Hunger Initiative, high tech company and local food shelves, deemed a success
Outcomes indicate easier access to fresh produce through food assistance means better health
(Minneapolis – January 29, 2015) — The conclusions of a pilot program to make healthier eating more accessible for everyone is pointing to success. The Minnesota Hunger Initiative (MNHI) partnered with local technology company, Solutran, Inc., to launch the Healthy Savings™ program, which offered participants savings on fresh produce and other nutritious foods.
Healthy Savings™ – a first-of-its-kind pilot – is seeking to expand in 2015 in the face of the upward trend in visits to food shelves in the nine-county metro area. “Our mission is to help change the way America eats by making healthy food more affordable and easier to access through advanced technology,” said Chad Kelly, Solutran, Inc., general manager of Healthy Savings.
During the 12-week Healthy Savings pilot, 100 families – pre-selected by three food shelf programs – Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP) in Brooklyn Center, Intercongregational Communities Association (ICA) in Minnetonka, and NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in north Minneapolis – received $10 worth of free produce each week and up to 30 percent in discounts on other nutritious foods. With nearly 90 percent engagement, the Healthy Savings pilot program surpassed the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s Healthy Incentive Pilot (HIP) 2013 results. In that pilot, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants received 30 cents incentive for every SNAP dollar spent on fresh produce.
Healthy Savings™ organizers say simplicity was the key: Card users selected produce and discounted healthy foods at Cub Foods, Lunds and Byerly’s, and Rainbow Food stores. With the new Solutran technology, discounts and free offers were pre-loaded on to member cards each week and accessed through a simple scan at checkout counters. Survey results showed high marks for being easy to use, increasing the number of fruits and vegetables participants consumed, and contributing to weight loss.
“We wanted the program to be trouble-free for families when it came to making healthy choices about foods that were suddenly affordable for them. We’re very pleased that 98 percent of survey respondents rated the program as ‘easy’ or ‘very easy to use.’ The impact on the behavioral economics and the positive effect for the families involved was overwhelming,” said MNHI Director, Patty Wilder.
Client focus groups were also conducted to learn more about benefits of the Healthy Savings card for families. Fernanda from Minnetonka shared she received “…fresh produce at the food shelf once per month. But having a Healthy Savings card gave me the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables weekly. In fact, I tried eggplant for the first time.”
Solutran, Inc. also donated $10,000 to MHI convener and Healthy Savings™ partner Greater Twin Cities United Way and the nonprofit’s cause, Stop the Growl. United Way incorporated the Healthy Savings program into its cause campaign.“We are most appreciative of Solutran, Inc.’s technology, their donation to ‘Stop the Growl’ and for recognizing the importance of access to healthy and nutritious foods. Together, we can continue to make a difference for hungry families in our region,” says United Way Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Meghan Barp.
To donate to Stop the Growl visit www.gtcuw.org/stopgrowl.
About Healthy Savings
Healthy Savings is a program for participants to save on healthier foods without having to clip, print or download coupons. Discounts are pre-loaded on to participant accounts each week and activated with a simple scan of a barcode from a card or mobile phone at checkout of participating retail stores. The technology for Healthy Savings was developed by Solutran, Inc. a Minnesota technology company in the financial services industry.
About the Minnesota Hunger Initiative
The Minnesota Hunger Initiative (formerly the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative), convened by Greater Twin Cities United Way, is an alliance of hunger relief agencies collaborating to end hunger in the region. Initiative partners include: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP); Family Pathways, The Food Group; Greater Twin Cities United Way; Hunger Solutions Minnesota; Intercongregation Communities Association (ICA); Keystone Community Services; Loaves and Fishes Too; Matter; Meals on Wheels; Minnesota Department of Education; Minnesota Department of Human Services/Office of Economic Opportunities; Minnesota FoodShare; Neighborhood House; NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center; Pillsbury United Communities; Second Harvest Heartland; University of Minnesota Extension Services;and Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP). MNHI also works with other various businesses and nonprofits to address hunger.
Solutran is a Minneapolis-based technology company whose mission is to provide clients with innovative, reliable and responsive technology solutions. Solutran invented the technology for Healthy Savings, which is designed to improve the way America eats. Solutran is a national leader in retail and grocery payments, consumer incentive payments and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) payments. For more information visit www.Solutran.com, www.healthysavings.net or call 888-SOLUTRAN (888-765-8872).