Green Bucks

It is common knowledge that a hindrance to healthy eating in the US is the “cheap and convenient factor” of fast food – and it’s costing us a lot! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite that approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese, and the prevalence of childhood obesity has almost tripled since 1980! According to the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, “1 of 7 low-income, preschool-aged children is obese. Even states with the lowest prevalence of obesity have counties where many low-income children are obese and at risk for chronic disease.”

The CDC also notes that one of the major factors in obesity is limited access to healthy, affordable foods. They say “Some people have less access to stores and supermarkets that sell healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, especially in rural, minority, and lower-income neighborhoods. Supermarket access is associated with a reduced risk for obesity. Choosing healthy foods is difficult for parents who live in areas with an overabundance of food retailers that tend to sell less healthy food, such as convenience stores and fast food restaurants.”

Based on this information we have come up with an idea that admittedly has many holes, but we hope that it at least sparks some thoughts on the subject of how we can combat the lure of cheap, easy (and potentially deadly) unhealthy food. We call it Green Bucks.

Grocers could choose to set up kiosks where shoppers can convert fast food coupons into Green Bucks, a currency that can only be used on healthful items like produce. The grocers would accept Green Bucks as a form of payment. Shoppers should get more for their money when they use Green Bucks. For instance one Green Buck could equal $2. That way, each time you receive a fast food coupon, you not only can exchange it for healthy food, but you also get more of it! Your coupon doubles in value should you make the healthy choice.

This kind of initiative would put forth a great image for the grocer (positive PR and community involvement) and create healthier cities. The Green Bucks program could be accepted at farmers markets, schools, restaurants (low cal options), or any other businesses who want to take part in the health food revolution and be seen as a philanthropic business and leader in their community.

As an added bonus, it may discourage fast food vendors from using price discounts as a marketing strategy to lure in low income customers.

It would also be extremely beneficial if major grocers put together outreach programs that would take their healthy produce and products to low income and rural areas that may have limited access to central flagship stores. For example, the grocer HEB could create HEBmobile, a traveling market that tours through lower income parts of town to make it more convenient for those communities to buy healthy foods.

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About Erin Eby

Art director and general design junkie.
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