Hi, can you give us a quick background on who you are and what you do at the AARP Foundation?
I’m Nicole Heckman, the Director of Food Security at AARP Foundation. I oversee all of our programs that work to end food insecurity among older adults in the U.S. This has become more important than ever now that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing many to face difficult times—especially in our senior communities.
How did the Healthy Savings program come about?
Healthy Savings® powered by AARP Foundation came out of our ongoing effort to tackle the issue of food insecurity and reliable, affordable access to healthy foods among older adults. Sadly, close to 5.5 million people over the age of 50 are food insecure and lack the ability to prioritize healthy eating. We want to change that.
AARP Foundation is always searching for new ways to help older adults with limited budgets find and shop for affordable, nutritious foods so they can improve their overall well-being. Healthy Savings is a big part of that effort.
How is the program going so far?
The program launched in March and we hit the ground running. We have faced the same challenges many programs are facing in the current environment, though, and we’re exploring ways to best support older people with low income during this unprecedented time. Healthy Savings has an important role to play because saving on food and having access to nutritious options are both top of mind for many right now. As the situation develops, we are continuing to evaluate how we can best serve older communities through the Healthy Savings program.
How many people are you hoping to reach?
We hope to reach as many people as possible. The program is available nationwide, with the exception of California. Over 22,000 stores participate in the Healthy Savings program, including major retailers such as Walmart and Food Lion. One of the key points of the program is convenience and accessibility — we want to help as many people as we can to find healthy food at a discount, at stores they are familiar with.
You mentioned healthy foods. What types of foods are included in the program and how do you know they are healthy?
The program includes foods like milk, whole-grain bread, lean meats, eggs, yogurt, and many other staples. Every Sunday, the Healthy Savings card is automatically loaded with new offers on foods that meet the nutrition standards set by the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a database that scores foods based on their nutritional value. All foods included in the Healthy Savings program rank in the top third of HEI food scores, so you can have confidence that you’re getting the most nutritious choices.
How much does it cost?
The program offers hundreds of dollars’ worth of savings for a low cost of $4.99 until the end of the year. Participants have the opportunity to renew their card before it expires in 2021.
How can someone sign up?
To sign up, visit aarpfoundation.org/healthysavings and follow the prompts on the screen.
Is it just for AARP members or can anyone buy it?
No, anyone can purchase the Healthy Savings card. As AARP’s charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and non-members alike.
Where can someone use the card, or find out if it will work in their area?
There are more than 22,000 participating locations, which users can find with the Store Finder on our website. Some of the partner locations on the list include Walmart, Albertsons, Kroger, SuperValu, Hy-vee, Giant and many others.
This sounds great! How can I/other people reading this help spread the word?
We would love your help! You can:
Anyone interested in partnering with us can reach out directly to our program manager, Michelle, via email at email@example.com.
What other exciting programs is the AARP Foundation working on?
At AARP Foundation, we are working every day to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connections. You can find programs available in your area by visiting our local assistance directory at https://local.aarpfoundation.org.