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Federal Grant Helps UC San Diego Program Bring Healthy Food to Low-Income Families

Program to use financial incentive to provide needy households with more fruits and vegetables

UC San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health is working with local markets to improve access to healthy food.


  • Michelle Brubaker

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  • Michelle Brubaker

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The University of California San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health recently received a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase affordable food access to low-income community members who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formally known as the Food Stamp Program.

Working in conjunction with Northgate González Market, the Center will develop a program to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among SNAP participants by providing incentives at point-of-purchase at markets in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. The effort will promote long-term health for SNAP participants and will include financial incentive rebates on fruit and vegetable purchases, special fruit and vegetable promotions and in-store cooking classes, store tours and education on food labeling. The program will also provide researchers with key data to better understand healthy purchasing behaviors.

“This funding will enable us to significantly increase the number of consumers participating in nutrition incentive programs and the amount of USDA dollars spent on healthy eating,” said Joe Prickitt, senior director of the Southern California Nutrition Incentive Program with UC San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health. “The program will both encourage and reward participants to purchase and consume a greater variety of healthy food.”

“We are honored to work with UC San Diego to support the USDA in the development, implementation and evaluation of a nutrition incentive program. It is our goal to develop an effective, efficient and replicable financial incentive rebate system that can serve as a national model for retailers and contribute to the enhanced health and well-being of low-income community members,” said Victor González, owner and vice president of Northgate González Market.

The grant is one of 27 Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) allocations for similar projects in 18 states.

"This is a great opportunity for San Diego and communities across California to better understand the dynamics of food insecurities and the effects on healthy eating,” said Kim McCoy Wade, chief, CalFresh Branch at California Department of Social Services. “We are incentivizing and increasing access to nutritious fruits and vegetables in low-income communities and using that experience in the development of model programs which make it easier for families and adults to make healthy choices.”

In addition to UC San Diego and Northgate González Market, other partners supporting this program include the California Endowment, Center for Good Food Purchasing, Ecology Center, Univision Radio, University of California Global Food Initiative, California Department of Public Health Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch, California Department of Social Services CalFresh Branch and local health departments and CalFresh agencies.

To learn more about UC San Diego’s Center for Community Health, visit

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