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Tops Markets pushes produce consumption with reward program

Tops Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont, has partnered with Independent Health on a program that will reward the health plan's members for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.

Independent Health is the first health plan in New York state to introduce a nutrition benefit as part of its health coverage that provides members with the opportunity to receive money-back rewards for buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

The nutrition benefit will be available exclusively to Independent Health members beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

The nutrition benefit will be available through all Tops Friendly Market Stores in western New York. For every $2 an Independent Health member spends on fresh fruits and vegetables at Tops, the member will receive a $1 credit for in-store grocery purchases.

Members can earn up to $1,000 on their food purchases each year on a family plan and up to $500 on a single plan, with the benefit rewards to be tracked through the Tops BonusPlus program.

"As a local company, we are always looking for ways to help our neighbors make good nutritional decisions for themselves and their families," Frank Curci, president and chief executive officer of Tops Markets, said in a press release. "We are proud to partner with Independent Health to bring this convenient, affordable and valuable benefit option to the western New York community."

The latest dietary guidelines call for a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, depending on one's caloric intake, age, gender and physical activity. However, the average American only gets a total of about three servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

In western New York, only 25 percent of adults are eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, according to Western New York Health Care Performance Measures.

Tops Markets LLC, headquartered in Williamsville, NY, operates 159 full-service supermarkets under the Tops and Orchard Fresh banners. Of the total, 154 are company-owned stores and five are operated as franchise locations.