Summary: Make It Fresh, for Less! A Supermarket Meal Bundling and Electronic Reminder Intervention to Promote Healthy Purchases among Families with Children

Having a healthy balanced diet is important and necessary, especially for low-income families with children.

  • About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils (1).
  • 44% of SNAP participants are children (2).

Dr. Alyssa Moran, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, published a study focused on determining if marketing and behavioral psychology interventions can increase sales of healthier food items for those participating in the SNAP program. Co-authors included EVERGREEN members Drs. Eric Rimm, Michele Polacsek, Anne Thorndike, and Rebecca Franckle, among others. This study was recently published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

In this study, participants were selected based on their enrollment in the SNAP program and if they shopped in the participating supermarkets within three months of the study. There were two interventions administered simultaneously. The first intervention was to provide healthy meal bundles and in-store marketing to promote healthier food choices for the participants. The second intervention was testing the influence of electronic reminders of the healthy bundled items. The participants were divided into two groups; the control group received generic monthly messages, while the intervention group received personalized weekly messages. During a 16 week intervention period, the sales of the bundled items were recorded. Overall, the electronic reminders had no effect on the purchasing of the bundled food items, and the bundling of meal items together did not significantly increase the sales. During the exit survey, participants were asked to recall if they remember seeing the bundled food items in the store.  Results show recall was generally low, which could be due to the positioning of the display in the store. Another factor could be the likelihood of risk aversion in this population and food decisions based on household income. Further studies are necessary to further elucidate barriers to effectiveness for these interventions.

Interested in learning more? Click here for a link to the full-text publication.

Publication: Moran A. J., Khandpur N., Polacsek M., Thorndike A. N., Franckle R. L., Boulos R., Sampson S., Greene J. C., Blue D. G., & Rimm E. B. (2019). Make It Fresh, for Less! A Supermarket Meal Bundling and Electronic Reminder Intervention to Promote Healthy Purchases Among Families With Children. J Nutr Educ Behav. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2019.01.012

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture; 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed February 27, 2019.
  2. Cronquist K, Lauffer S. (2019) Characteristics of USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2017. Alexandria, VA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. fns.usda.gov/research-and-analysis. Accessed March 1, 2019.