The Healthy Savings program, which offers users “smart discounts” on healthy food in grocery stores, is expanding to select Stop & Shop, Western Beef and Junior’s food stores in New York City as part of a pilot program supported by the city’s Office of Food Policy, local healthcare providers and other entities.
A cohort of qualifying residents in Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx are the first to be offered the program as part of a pilot in 2018. Participants with a Healthy Savings card can download a free app that can be scanned at the register for savings of up to 50% on fresh produce, and 25% to 30% on additional healthy food items, including lean meats, milk, bread, yogurt, beans, cereal and more from 200 participating food companies.
Healthy Savings was developed by Solutran, a Minneapolis-based technology company, which offers the program in several Midwest cities through partnerships with health insurance programs and employers. The program has been expanding in recent months.
Around 1 million people currently have access to the program and have saved more than $1.5 million buying healthier foods, according to Solutran, which said it intended to offer the program nationally by the second half of the year.
“We wanted to change shopping behaviors and we knew technology would play a role. But building a platform ourselves would have been a huge and expensive challenge,” Barbara Turk, director of food policy in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, said in a release.
Healthy Savings expands on the city’s current healthy eating programs by reaching more people and enabling year-round savings, Turk said. If the pilot increases healthy food decisions among its 6,000 participants, organizers plan to make it available to the broader New York population.
“Too many people face steep barriers to accessing healthy food,” said Turk. “Healthy Savings is a promising approach to making food security and healthy eating easier for New Yorkers.”