Projects

Campaign for HIP Funding: Farms and Markets

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HIP Fact Sheet 2017

The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), launched in April 2017, has exceeded expectations, providing $2.97 million in fresh, healthy, local food to SNAP families, and increasing sales for participating farmers. As a result of that success it is critical that the state invest money in the program to ensure it can continue providing the incentives that help improve health outcomes for some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable communities, and help to sustain farms. For more information about HIP, see this fact sheet.

We are urging the House Committee on Ways and Means to include $6.2 million in their Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal for HIP. To ensure that HIP carries on its important work, please take the following actions.

  1. Sign your farm or market on to a letter that will be submitted to the committee.

  2. Call your representative(s) and ask them to support HIP.

  3. Urge your customers to call or email their representatives in January.

  4. Host a legislator at your farm or market.

Sign-on letter

This is the letter that will be submitted to the Committee on Ways and Means. Please review, and if you'd like to add your farm or market's name to the list of signatories, use this form.

Dear Chairman Sanchez, Vice-Chairman Kulik, and members of the Committee:

The undersigned organizations, representing ### farms, businesses, and individuals across the Commonwealth, urge the House Committee on Ways and Means to include $6.2 million for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) in its Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal. HIP is improving health outcomes in some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities, while creating markets for local farms. Every dollar allocated to this program is a direct investment in the health of Massachusetts residents and communities, our local economy, and our natural resources.

The Healthy Incentives Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match for SNAP dollars spent on fruits and vegetables purchased at participating farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs statewide.

Since HIP’s launch in April 2017, SNAP recipients have purchased more than $2.97 million of produce from local farmers, earning an equal amount of incentives in the process. That’s nearly a 600% increase in sales of fresh, healthy, local foods to low-income families over 2016 figures. More than 35,400 households have participated, representing over 62,200 individuals. Close to 50% of the households that have benefited include a senior, and more than 34% include a child. The program’s success so far can also mean savings of more than $1.1 million in public health costs, due to reductions in chronic disease and medical costs brought about by healthy eating.

For the 200 farmers participating in HIP, this $2.97 million in increased sales makes it possible for them to hire local residents, purchase goods and services from local businesses, and employ sustainable management practices that protect farmland and other natural resources, contributing to Massachusetts’ environmental health. For every dollar spent on purchasing vegetables directly from a Massachusetts farmer, an additional $1.12 in local economic activity is generated, meaning HIP has stimulated at least another $3.1 million in financial transactions in the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth’s decades of innovative anti-hunger work and investments in direct-to-consumer sales of farm products set the stage for HIP. The USDA grant program that launched HIP was in response to a pilot program in Massachusetts in 2011-12 which incentivized fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP recipients. That study found that monetary  incentives have a positive impact on healthy eating for families that otherwise may be limited to less-healthy foods due to budgetary constraints. HIP has already earned national attention for its sizable participation from both SNAP recipients and farmers, and for its innovative integration with the SNAP EBT system, which removes the stigma for SNAP recipients of having to “shop differently” using coupons or tokens.

Significant investment has been made in the extensive infrastructure necessary to operate HIP – back-end technology, outreach and communications, management, and other critical aspects of the program – and demand for the program is clear. The need for ongoing financial support for the incentives is critical.

The Commonwealth has been a national leader in addressing food insecurity and farm viability for many years. We urge the Committee to continue to invest in HIP so that this innovative program can continue to improve the health of our citizens, sustain our farms, and support a healthy environment for all residents of Massachusetts.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this input.

If you'd like to sign your organization on to this letter, please click here.


Call your representatives

Everyone can weigh in to support HIP by contacting their representative to ask them to support HIP. You can find your representative’s contact information here

When you call, ask to speak to the representative or their staff member who handles public health and/or agriculture policy. Let them know that you’re calling to ask them to:

  1. Sign on to a letter urging that the House Committee on Ways and Means include $6.2 million in their Fiscal Year 2019 budget request by contacting Carolyn Cismondi in Representative Donahue’s office at Carolyn.Cismondi@mahouse.gov.

  2. Include HIP as a priority in their top three priorities when they meet with the Committee to discuss the upcoming budget.

Let them know why HIP is important to you. If you’re a SNAP recipient, a farmer, or an advocate, explain your role in the program, what it has meant to you and your community this year, and why it is important to you that the state support it.

All legislators need to hear from their constituents, especially those who are on the Committee on Ways and Means. Please check this list and if there's a representative who serves your town, please be sure to contact them.

Please contact your representatives by January 19. To help us keep track of which legislators are supportive, please let us know who you reached out to and how they responded, by emailing Winton Pitcoff at the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative.


Spread the word

Please encourage your customers to call their representatives to support HIP. Below is some language for you to use or adapt for your social media or newsletter.

Facebook post

The Healthy Incentives Program gives SNAP families better access to fresh, healthy, local food, and increases sales for Massachusetts farmers. Call your state representative today to ask them to support HIP. Follow the link for details! [Link to https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/hip-indivs/]

Tweet

Better access to healthy food and sustainability for local farms! Call or email your state representative today to support the Healthy Incentives Program! [Link to https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/hip-indivs/]

Newsletter blurb

Support healthy families and sustainable farms!

The Healthy Incentives Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match for SNAP dollars spent on fruits and vegetables purchased at participating farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs statewide. To date the program has provided more than $2.9 million in fresh, healthy, local foods for low-income families, with that money going to support local farms. The program has far exceeded expectations, so action is needed to urge the legislature to include funding in their next budget to support the program.

Please call or email your state representative today and ask them to support HIP. If you’re not sure who your representative is, you can find out here: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. When you reach them or their staff, ask them to:

  1. Sign on to a letter urging that the House Committee on Ways and Means include $6.2 million in their Fiscal Year 2019 budget request by contacting Carolyn Cismondi in Representative Donahue’s office at Carolyn.Cismondi@mahouse.gov.

  2. Include HIP as a priority in their top three priorities when they meet with the Committee to discuss the upcoming budget.

If you have any questions, or would like more information about HIP or the campaign, contact Winton Pitcoff at the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, at winton@mafoodsystem.org, or see https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/HIP/. 

Invite your legislators to visit

If your farmstand or winter farmers market is open for business this time of year, invite your local representative to stop in for a visit so you can tell them about your experience with HIP. If you haven't done this before, or would like some tips on how to arrange a visit, contact Winton Pitcoff for some tips.