The United States Department of Agriculture is starting a pilot program to increase dairy consumption, helping farmers and SNAP participants to pick healthy choices off the shelf.
It’s partnering with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, to implement “Add Milk!”.
“With the kind of falling of milk consumption and purchasing, how can we help the producers? But also, how can we put milk in the diets of those who need it the most?” Keith Timmer, regional manager for the Lubbock location, asked.
Lowe’s Supermarkets and the South Plains Hunger Solutions Coalition are partnering in the effort to solve that problem.
For one year, when SNAP benefits users at participating stores buy qualifying milk products, they can get a dollar-for-dollar coupon for their next milk purchase.
“And a qualifying item is going to be any size milk, and it can be lactose-free, as well. It has to be unsweetened, unflavored, and as long as it’s skim milk or 1%,” Timmer explained.
Timmer says when participants use their SNAP EBT (Lone Star) card for one of these products, they will automatically get a coupon at checkout with a dollar-for-dollar match.
Starting the next day, they can use that coupon at the same location for eligible milk products, including whole milk and 2%.
It expires 30 days after the initial purchase.
“Everyone should be able to have the access and ability to have a proper, healthy lifestyle,” Timmer added.
Brandon Lipps, the former Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at USDA, says lower-income populations don’t always have access to information on healthy dietary patterns.
“So, incentivizing them to buy healthy products like milk can help improve the health of their whole family, even their young children as they grow into adulthood,” Lipps said.
Timmer says the pilot project is an opportunity to show the USDA that using these incentive programs helps health outcomes.
Another USDA project, the Healthy Incentive Pilot, found that those who received an incentive to purchase fruits and vegetables saw a 26% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.
Last year, the new dietary guidelines for Americans were released.
“When they looked, the typical American, and it was about 90% of Americans, aren’t reaching the recommended dairy consumption levels,” Timmer added.
Timmer says without healthy fluid milk, adults and their children are missing out on 13 essential nutrients and can lead to trouble in the future.
“Looking at heart attacks, looking at congestive heart failures, diabetes rates, coronary heart disease, looking at all these different preventable diseases,” Timmer explained.
The “Add Milk!” incentive program starts on May 3. Two of the three locations for the pilot project are in our area. One is the Food King on Waylon Jennings Blvd in Littlefield, and the other is the Food King in Lubbock on 82nd and Slide.
You can learn more about the program and what counts as qualifying and eligible milk products here: https://www.baylor.edu/addmilk/index.php?id=977019.