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Stop & Shop, About Fresh to increase fresh food access in Massachusetts

After a successful pilot at Stop & Shop’s Grove Hall store, the program is now available at more than 100 store locations in Eastern Massachusetts and will expand to all stores by early spring.

Stop & Shop and Boston-based nonprofit About Fresh are partnering to expand access to fresh and healthy foods for people in need across New England.

Through About Fresh’s “Fresh Connect” program, participants can use prepaid debit cards ‘prescribed’ by healthcare providers to purchase healthy food.

Stop & Shop is the first major retailer to make this produce as a prescription program available. After a successful pilot at Stop & Shop’s Grove Hall store location, the program is now available at more than 100 store locations in Eastern Massachusetts and will expand to more than 400 Stop & Shop stores by early spring.

[Read more: Stop & Shop, Flashflood roll out program in Rhode Island]

According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, as many as 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 5 children in Massachusetts are struggling with food insecurity – numbers pushed higher by the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies said. 

With prepaid debit cards funded by healthcare organizations and a HIPAA-compliant platform, Fresh Connect’s produce as a prescription program empowers patients who are experiencing food insecurity with the money, convenience and agency to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that can help improve their overall health and wellbeing.

By working with Stop & Shop, hundreds of Fresh Connect participants can now easily shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at their local store, swipe the prepaid debit card at check out, and it will automatically deduct the cost of the produce from the total purchase price.

“Increasing access to fresh and healthy foods for those facing food insecurity remains a top priority for us when it comes to caring for our communities,” said Gordon Reid, president of Stop & Shop. “With food insecurity continuing to impact the neighborhoods that Stop & Shop serves at an overwhelming rate, we’re proud to come together with About Fresh to ensure that even more people can access fresh, high-quality foods that support their wellbeing.”

[Read more: Stop & Shop kicks off flu shot availability]

Fresh Connect’s debit cards for qualifying individuals and families are primarily funded by major healthcare institutions like Brigham Medicaid ACO and Brigham Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and Boston Medical Center. Prior to teaming up with Stop & Shop, Fresh Connect cardholders were able to use their cards at About Fresh’s “Fresh Trucks”, trucks offering fresh produce around the City of Boston, as well as other local retailers.

By making Fresh Connect cards available for Stop & Shop shoppers, more card holders get the added convenience of access to fresh fruits and vegetables where they are already shopping. This new partnership represents a significant step in the effort to combine healthcare resources with Fresh Connect’s groundbreaking technology and leading retail partners to significantly expand food access as a way to advance health equity - and to transform the way we fund efforts to eradicate food insecurity and improve public health.

[Read More: Stop & Shop, Instacart partner on 30-minute delivery service]

"Especially in the midst of the global pandemic, working with Stop & Shop to ensure communities have access to fresh fruits & vegetables is more important than ever,” said Josh Trautwein, co-founder and CEO of About Fresh. "By combining Stop & Shop’s reach across the Northeast with Fresh Connect’s innovative prescription produce program, thousands of people are gaining access to affordable, healthy food that they love.”

To learn more about the About Fresh “Fresh Connect” program, please visit here

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