Takeaways from Match the Market

By: Ethel Recinos and Chelsea Matzen       Posted On: February 1, 2021

When Iowa Healthiest State Initiative and Pinnacle Prevention received the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grant, Aryn Mclaren (Iowa Healthiest State Initiatives) and Adrienne Udarbe (Pinnacle Prevention) focused their efforts on expanding the types of participating outlets to include farmers markets and brick and mortar sites.

Aryn and Adrienne knew making the leap to expand nutrition incentive outlet participants would be a cumbersome but important step towards increasing food accessibility in Iowa and Arizona. 

Back in October, Farmers Market Coalition and National Grocers Association TA Center, in partnership with the Nutrition Incentive Hub, teamed up to celebrate Aryn and Adrienne’s work and offer an opportunity to learn from them.  “Match the Market: Adapting Nutrition Incentives to Different Types of Food Outlets” hi-lights how they adapted and shifted their nutrition programs to meet the unique needs of different types of food outlets in their states, and how your organization can do the same.

Here are the lessons these programs administrators  learned along the way, including tips on program adaptation, marketing, capacity support, and outlet funding requirements.


Aryn Mclaren, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative

Universal Currency – Iowa Healthiest State Initiative expects flexibility from their various markets to accept the same universal currency. They are using paper vouchers that can be earned and redeemed at both farmers markets and grocery stores. This has added benefits to the consumers as it ensures the program works the same regardless of what market they go to.  

Expect your sites to be partners – Whether farmers markets or grocery stores, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative expects their markets to handle the day to day administration and monthly reporting. While they are able to provide some marketing materials they expect retail partners to cover the cost of in-store marketing materials. 

Patience – Don’t expect partnerships with grocery stores to happen overnight. Especially with bigger chain stores, it can take time to find the right people and develop the relationships. Additionally, solving technology issues such as updating POS systems can be time consuming prior to program launch. 

Budget for Redemption Rates – Grocery stores and farmers markets will have very different redemption rates, but even your experience with one grocery store may not be indicative of redemption rates in other geographies or other stores. Iowa Healthiest State Initiative has seen that due to their universal currency sales at grocery stores have actually increased redemptions at farmers markets

Adrienne Udarbe, Pinnacle Prevention

Know the needs of each outlet – Pinnacle Prevention administers Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) to multiple outlets including farmers markets, farms stands, mobile markets, CSAs, corner stores, and medium-sized grocery stores. Pinnacle Prevention has found success in adopting an incentive delivery approach that is tailored to each outlet while taking into account the customer base, outlet capacity, and point of sale systems. With this approach, Pinnacle Prevention distributes four different types of incentive currencies including tokens, instant-earn loyalty cards, coupons, and gift card options. 

Strategic marketing and promotion – DUFB is administered across 10 counties in Arizona including rural, urban, and Indigenous communities with widely diverse populations. Because of this, Pinnacle Prevention has worked to customize all marketing and promotional materials and currency to make the program as accessible as possible by taking into consideration community culture and language. For example, in the communities with large refugee populations, marketing materials are mostly visual graphics with few words in languages like Swahili, Arabic, and Spanish.

Proceed with caution – Though expansion to brick and mortar sites is possible and beneficial to communities, it’s best to scale up slowly and get a good handle on volume so your organization can better manage utilization and funding projections. Don’t assume that the purchasing patterns at one brick and mortar site will be the same in different communities.

Be mindful of the burden – Implementing nutrition incentives require a lot of work. Make sure that your partners have the capacity to help your organization with the expansion goals. This will help maintain excitement, passion, and support for the program. It’s equally as important to celebrate the work the sites are doing and uplift the successes of the program in those communities. 

Whether your organization is already preparing to implement a nutrition incentive program in a new type of outlet, or you’re simply interested in learning about the difference between how incentive programs work at farm direct and brick and mortar sites, this Match the Market webinar in partnership with the National Grocers Association TA Center will offer you insight into how you can successfully expand nutrition incentive programs into different outlets.