Today's food retailing and distribution system is the most efficient in the world, providing a consistent and safe food supply to American families every day. NGA and its members are firmly committed to providing consumers with safe and high-quality food products. From labeling requirements to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC), and Healthy Food Financing Initiatives (HFFI), NGA works closely with many agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) to ensure independent supermarket operators are represented at the federal level and have the timeliest information possible to best serve our customers.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides a safety net to approximately 43 million low-income individuals meet their nutritional needs. Often considered the backbone of their community, America’s independent supermarket operators have long been indispensable partners in the SNAP food delivery system, serving millions of low-income households, including families with children, the elderly, and disabled. SNAP is one of the most efficient federal social safety net programs because retailers are the linchpin of a successful public-private partnership. NGA members continue to work collaboratively with the USDA, Congress, and our industry partners to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the program and to work to decrease waste, fraud, and abuse.
In February of this year, the Administration released its Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, which included drastic changes to the SNAP program by replacing about 40 percent of household SNAP benefits with a government run commodity box delivery service. Instead of letting households use their SNAP benefits at their local grocery store, SNAP funding would be used to send eligible households a box of non-perishable food items. An economic analysis commissioned by NGA found that such a proposal would be disastrous for the food retail sector. It would mean to a loss of over 211,700 grocery retail jobs, and a total of almost 368,500 direct and indirect job losses throughout the economy. Rural and low-income communities would be most negatively affected, where the local economy is heavily reliant on the success of Main Street supermarkets.
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program
The FINI program is an incentive-based program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that aims to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income SNAP customers by providing incentives at point of purchase. Funding is paid out annually by USDA on a competitive grant basis to non-profit entities or government agencies who submit grant applications. Each grant must meet a one-to-one matching requirement through direct or in-kind contributions. Grantees typically partner with grocery stores or farmers markets to implement FINI projects that incentivize SNAP households to purchase fruits and vegetables in a variety of formats. Participating supermarkets will provide a discount to SNAP shoppers on the purchase of FINI eligible products either through direct discounting, coupons, or loyalty program rewards. Participating NGA members have seen tremendous success including higher produce sales and healthier shopping decisions by SNAP customers.
How to Participate:
The 2018 Farm Bill significantly increased the amount of federal funding to the FINI program, potentially providing supermarkets with new opportunities to participate in the program. We anticipate USDA will issue a Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2019 grant cycle sometime this spring with awards being issued in the early fall.
If you or your store is interested in participating in the FINI program, you should consider doing one of three things:
- Partner with a grantee organization with the capacity to take on new project partners. CLICK HERE for a list of FINI grantees that were awarded funds in 2018;
- If you have a 501c3 non-profit arm, consider applying directly for a 2019 grant when USDA issues an RFA; or,
- IF you’re an NGA member, contact Molly Pfaffenroth at NGA at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will try to match you with a grantee with the capacity to take on new project partners. Please note that NGA cannot guarantee your participation but will make our best efforts to help.
Ensuring the safety of America’s food supply is a top priority for NGA and its members. Below are a number of resources for retail supermarkets.
NGA members can submit food safety questions to email@example.com.
Questions and Answers for Retailers on Voluntary Romaine Lettuce Labeling
On Nov. 20, 2018, based on an investigation into an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, the FDA and CDC issued a broad public warning that advised consumers not to consume romaine lettuce. They also asked retailers and restaurants to stop serving and selling all romaine lettuce. The alert included all romaine no matter where or when it was grown/harvested. On November 23, six companies from the leafy green community secretly entered into negotiations with the FDA to develop a voluntary labeling initiative to identify the harvest location and date of romaine to allow for reintroduction of product into the market. On Monday, Nov. 26, the FDA released a public statement from the commissioner with updated information on this outbreak as well as recommendations on this new labeling system.
Click HERE to view questions and answers that have been created jointly by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) in an attempt to address some of the questions our organizations have been receiving from retail and wholesale members.
Listeria Assessment in Retail Deli
USDA-FSIS is conducting a year-long survey to assess if retail delis are following the FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens. The Guidance includes a 34 question Self-Assessment. These are the same questions the FSIS Compliance Investigator will be using during their assessment. The Guidance and Self-Assessment tool are available for download HERE. In addition to the Listeria guidance document, FSIS has also developed a brochure with best practice tips for deli operations. The brochure is available for download HERE.
NOTE: These are guidance documents and not necessarily Federal or State requirements.
FSMA Training Requirements
FSMA requires all covered facilities, including distribution centers, to have a food safety plan written and managed by an individual who is identified as a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). More information on training requirements and a list of available courses can be found at the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) website at http://www.iit.edu/ifsh/alliance/index.shtml.
Grinding Logs for Beef
USDA-FSIS is requiring retailers to keep records on the source, lot number and additional information on all beef ground in the store. NGA has developed a “model” grinding log that contains all of the information required under the new regulations. To access the NGA sample grinding log, click HERE.
To learn more contact:
Molly Pfaffenroth, Director, Government Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Jones, Vice President, Government Relations & Counsel: email@example.com
Greg Ferrara, Executive Vice President Advocacy, Public Relations and Member Services: Gferrara@nationalgrocers.org
Press inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org