The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative (www.mafoodsystem.org), which has led the Campaign for HIP Funding (www.hipma.org) for four years, opposes Governor Baker’s plan to dramatically cut support for healthy families and sustainable farms by reducing funding for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) as proposed in yesterday’s release of H1.
HIP is a vital program for nearly 900,000 Massachusetts residents who rely on the federal SNAP program for food each month. It provides these individuals with additional resources to purchase fresh, healthy, local food directly from Massachusetts farmers. This not only helps improve health outcomes for some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable communities, it also helps sustain farms which, in turn, contribute to the state’s economy and protect natural resources.
Just one month ago the legislature and Governor Baker passed the FY21 budget which included $13 million for HIP, an amount which the Administration’s projections in yesterday’s proposal indicate will be needed to meet demand. Yet the Governor is proposing to slash that amount by more than 60%, to just $5 million for FY22, which will fall far short of demand and result in healthy food becoming inaccessible to hundreds of thousands of families, and local farms losing markets for food they have invested in growing.
Providing healthy food to families in need and supporting the sustainability of local farms are both key elements of the Commonwealth’s recovery from the COVID crisis. Cutting the budget to a program with a proven track record of success undermines the Governor’s own words from his State of the State address on Tuesday, when he said that part of the state’s mission for COVID response was “Do the best we can to protect the health and well-being of everyone.” Surely, we can do better than this proposal.
The more than 300 organizations, businesses, farms, and institution which are members of the Campaign for HIP funding look forward to working with the legislature and Governor Baker to do so, by reversing this proposed cut.