By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director of Communications
Independent retailers are a key partner on the path to ending hunger and supporting heathy diets. Retailers are community economic hubs that support community revitalization and growth.
Our members care deeply about their communities and as such have worked hard to increase access to healthy food options for their customers.
As such, NGA was honored to be a part of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on Sept. 28, and is committed to helping enhance food access and nutrition for all.
Specifically, over the next two years, NGA will assist with improving access to grocery stores across the country by working to increase the number of grocery retailers authorized for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) online purchases with a prioritization on rural areas and areas with low food access, and creating a toolkit with a list of resources and funding opportunities to support the expansion of full-service grocery stores in designated food deserts.
NGA members are out in their communities everyday making a difference. Our grocers look for innovative solutions to bring food to communities in need and work with the communities to listen to those needs.
For example, the Homeland grocery chain opened a full-size grocery store in northeastern Oklahoma City, which is a predominantly Black neighborhood and food desert. In addition to offering nutrition incentives for buying fresh produce, the retailer increased food access and created jobs by working directly with the community and learning their needs.
NGA was particularly encouraged by the prominent inclusion by the administration of antitrust enforcement in the effort to fight hunger. Enforcing antitrust laws like the Robinson-Patman Act is one of NGA’s top priorities.
“Without a level playing field for independent grocers, the food insecure of our nation are only going to have a harder time accessing the nutritious food their families need to thrive,” said South Dakota-based independent grocer RF Buche, who attended the White House conference and was present earlier this week in Minneapolis where FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya declared his commitment to enforcing RPA.
“I know firsthand the challenges that rural communities face in getting consistent access to groceries,” said Buche, who spearheaded an effort to serve food deserts in his home state with temperature-controlled food lockers. “Acknowledgement of these challenges by the administration and support to build upon these efforts will be welcomed with open arms by folks in the communities I serve.”
Also attending the conference was Jimmy Wright, a single-store independent operator in Opelika, Ala., who was impressed by the focus on food and nutrition. “It’s encouraging to see a high-level of interest in food access and nutrition from the Biden administration,” said Wright, who participated in the SNAP Online purchasing pilot program. “This is a tremendous opportunity for independent grocers to share our stories about the important role we play in providing nutritious food to communities across the nation. I look forward to working with the administration and Congress on solutions for greater food access, including the enforcement of antitrust laws to address economic discrimination in the marketplace.”