Citing the potential benefits of the cash value voucher to boost fruit and vegetable consumption by food stamp recipients, a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service evaluates the success of various incentive strategies to increase fruit and vegetable purchases.
Called “Comparing Alternative Economic Mechanisms To Increase Fruit and Vegetable Purchases,” the study considered three economic mechanisms to create incentives for fruit and vegetable purchases:
  • A bonus for fruit and vegetable spending; 
  • A rebate for fruit and vegetable spending; and 
  • A cash value voucher redeemable for fruits and vegetables up to a fixed dollar amount. 
Authors Mark Prell and David Smallwood said in the report that all three incentive strategies can increase fruit and vegetable purchases for the average food stamp consumer.
The report said attention must be paid to food stamp consumers who typically purchase no fruits and vegetables. 
“For that subgroup, implementing a cash value voucher tends to increase purchases by more than other mechanisms,” the report said. 
For that subgroup of consumers who don’t typically buy fruits and vegetables, the report said the cash value voucher tends to be the strategy that increases fruits and vegetable purchases the most.
“A cash value voucher holds promise for increasing nutrition and health among the SNAP population,” the report said. The cash value voucher increases fruit and vegetable purchases the most among SNAP consumers who purchase no fruits and vegetables, the report said, and those consumers would likely to enjoy the most health benefits from additional consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“Together, these two factors suggest that a cash value voucher may increase nutrition and health among the SNAP population by more than a rebate, even if a rebate increases average consumption of fruits and vegetables by more than a cash value voucher,” the report said.