WASHINGTON – The Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives program is extending its reach to 575 more stores in 16 states after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $4 million in grant funds to Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI).

HFMI projects provide a dollar-for-dollar match to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants when they purchase healthy fluid milk products. With the latest additions, HFMI projects will be operating in 700 stores in 19 states.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which helped establish HFMI in the 2018 Farm Bill, long has supported incentivizing SNAP participants to purchase healthy dairy products and providing greater access to food insecure populations.

“Expanding the SNAP Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives projects means greater access to affordable, nutritious dairy products for the most vulnerable Americans,” said Michael Dykes, IDFA’s president and chief executive officer. “Consuming milk, along with its 13 essential nutrients, is linked to healthy immune function, hydration, cognition, mental health, bone health and lower risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. During this time of chronic food insecurity, it’s critical we find ways to stretch the SNAP dollar further in support of the purchase of nutrient-dense foods.”

IDFA shared that one of its members, Midwest retailer Meijer, is the only retailer in the region of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin working with Auburn’s HSI on the project.

“As a company committed to enriching lives in the communities we serve, providing our customers with healthy grocery options is at the heart of what we do,” said Becky Bronkema, director of merchandising for dairy and frozen at Meijer. “We are excited to partner on this important project during the holiday season to help families get easier access to milk, which offers so much nutritional value.”

In 2022, USDA awarded nearly $3 million in new funding to Auburn’s HSI, bringing the HFMI program to 116 retail locations in four states.

In the next Farm Bill, IDFA is asking Congress to include provisions for expanding the HFMI program to include all milk varieties, plus cheese and yogurt.