MIDDLEBURG, Va. — The Food Marketing Institute presented its 2018 Esther Peterson Award for Consumer service to U.S. Department of Agriculture official Andrea Gold, who serves as director of the retailer policy and management division for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The presentation was made at FMI’s recent State Issues Retreat, an annual conference that brings together food retail grocery associations and grocery company government relations professionals from each state to discuss state and local legislative and regulatory issues of interest to the food industry.
FMI said Gold has been an indispensable resource in helping the food retail industry serve its SNAP consumers, especially in times of emergency or natural disaster. As part of the National Response Framework, Gold helps the retail food industry provide SNAP nutrition assistance to those most affected by a crisis through USDA’s FNS.
“Andrea is literally the calm in a storm and a source of order in the midst of chaos,” FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin said. “When confronted with a crisis, she and her team work with speed and efficiency to provide sustenance to victims of a natural disaster when they find themselves suddenly, and often critically, in need of the very basics of food and water. Andrea remains a front-line resource to states and food retailers when a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) and related options are in place and we’re grateful for her leadership.”
In addition to the support she brings low-income communities recovering from disasters, Gold leads efforts to expand SNAP consumer access to food. Examples include the upcoming online purchasing pilot which will allow SNAP consumers to order and pay for food on line for the first time, and implementing incentives that provide greater access to healthy foods at SNAP authorized retailers and farmers markets. She has worked with colleagues to facilitate the consolidation of the retailer operations functions formerly handled in seven FNS regional offices into a single national organization, and to further streamline aspects of the SNAP authorization process for owners with multiple stores in the Program. Throughout her career, she has worked to ensure the security of SNAP benefits and reduce fraud in the program. She continues to enhance the program by working toward efficiencies in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system.
“In the spirit of award namesake Esther Peterson, Gold is devoted to finding solutions to critical SNAP customer issues, serving grocery customers whenever a need arises – often after hours and on weekends,” said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer, senior vice president, government relations at FMI. “She strives to make the program more efficient for food retailers and create a seamless payment experience for the grocery shopper.”
Peterson served as special assistant for consumer affairs under U.S. Presidents Johnson and Carter and pioneered the role for the food industry as vice president for consumer affairs at Giant Food, Inc.