Collects Personal Stories and Survival Strategies

August 10, 2012

An open forum for food stamp recipients aims to provide tools in making those dollars stretch. How can retailers do the same for their SNAP customers?

In an effort to bring more awareness to the realities of struggling families on food stamps, is hosting an open forum for participants to post their personal stories and survival strategies. While over 45 million Americans currently receive food stamps, there are some perceptions that are negative as to the validity of needs and the possibility of many participants taking advantage of the system., a site dedicated to providing information on the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, wants to give food stamp recipients a voice. While invoking empathy may be a part of the open forum's goal, a much more important benefit to this type of discussion could be providing valuable strategies to making food stamp dollars stretch and prevail useful in meeting vital nutritional needs particularly in the wake of high obesity rates in children. 

For most supermarkets, food stamp customers are a given, and therefore cannot be ignored - and let's not forget participation in SNAP benefits is intended to be temporary until a family can get back on their feet. 

The open forum, which will publish one personal story per week, offers information supermarkets can use to know their food stamp customers better, but could also be used as a model for their own store website discussions. Adding an area on websites committed to helping SNAP recipients use their food stamps in the best way possible might not only secure this customer demographic as a regular shopper but also a loyal customer for life, even when the food stamps are no longer in play. 

Give customers an opportunity to share their own strategies on your sites. Offer meal planning based on weekly specials and incorporate lower calorie, healthier ingredients, so families can see that eating well is still possible despite the limitations of funds. Offer opportunities to write in questions to the store's dietitian. Create a space where parents can specifically learn about ways to feed their children on food stamps. 

The stores website is a great place to host a program like this as some customers may feel shy about their financial circumstances. However, the Internet has proven an effective way for others to exchange information, so building anonymous comment and discussion sections could be attractive to these customers. 

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