It’s a smart move to invest in your customers’ well-being. And that’s what Target is doing by providing grants in 13 states so doctors can write prescriptions for their patients to use to get free or low-cost fresh fruits and veggies. Target’s communications rep, Angie Thompson, wrote in an email statement, “Our investment this year is to help organizations give children and families more choices that allow them to increase their physical activity and eat healthy every day.”
Target is funding various organizations such as Wholesome Wave, which works to increase availability to healthier foods and build an equitable food system. But Target’s funding also works with many organic and shelf-stable food options Target has added to their Made to Matter collection, featuring brands like Annie’s and Stonyfield.
From the outside looking in, many wonder if this is more about the publicity than any social mission of Target. That’s not to say that the funding doesn’t have the potential for helping a lot of people. Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave founder, said, “We found that people struggling with poverty didn’t have enough money to take the healthier food choice. So we thought if we could incentivize and level the price playing field between the healthy and unhealthy option, people would choose the healthy option and boy, they sure did.”
The FVRx is expanding to Los Angeles, the second major U.S. city (New York was the first) to reach out especially to high-risk and high-need groups. One group is from the Eisner Medical Center, where their patients live well below the poverty level, many of them with serious health issues such as obesity that could be improved with better nutrition. Those with the prescriptions can take them to local farmer’s markets or their Target store to redeem them for the free fresh food. Allowing both options makes it easier since some may not have the option of visiting farmer’s markets when they are available.
Whether it is something truly aligned with Target’s core mission, or a PR stunt, it has the potential to make many lives easier and better. That’s a good thing and should be commended.