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Options for delivering financial incentives to participants for purchasing targeted foods.

The diets of many low-income individuals, like the U.S. population overall, do not meet federal dietary guidelines. With new authority provided as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, the Food and Nutrition Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have an opportunity to develop and administer a pilot incentive program and to determine both its effects on participant purchasing and consumption patterns and the costs associated with such a program.

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In fiscal year 2007, the Food Stamp Program provided about $30.4 billion in nutrition assistance benefits to 26.5 million individuals. Benefits are issued through electronic benefits transfer cards to purchase eligible foods at authorized retail stores. The Government Accountability Office was asked to identify what is known about the effectiveness of financial incentives and other approaches intended to increase the purchase of targeted foods.

The GAO says one of the numerous electronic options would be to add food benefits to current EBT cards or to a separate card on the basis of the amount that participants spend on targeted foods. Providing incentives for using existing EBT cards would build on the current checkout technology and process, and could require less time to complete transactions compared with using a separate card.
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Title Annotation:first things first
Publication:Policy & Practice
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:211
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