Projects > Healthy Incentives Program

Campaign for HIP Funding: Farms and Markets

The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), launched in April 2017, has exceeded expectations, providing more than $9 million in fresh, healthy, local food to more than 55,000 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 legislature to include $8.5 million in their Fiscal Year 2020 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 support letter.

  2. Call your legislators and ask them to support HIP.

  3. Urge your customers to call or email their representatives and senators.

  4. Host a legislator at your farm or market.

Sign-on letter

This is the letter that will be submitted to the legislature. Please review, and if you'd like to add your farm or market's name to the list of signatories, use this form. See who has signed on already, here.

The Campaign for HIP Funding appreciates your past investments in the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). Thanks to your support, HIP has improved the health of tens of thousands of families, helped to sustain hundreds of farms, and strengthened the Commonwealth’s local economy. We write today to ask you to build on this success with continued funding.

The undersigned organizations, representing XXX farms, businesses, and individuals across the Commonwealth urge the Legislature to include $8.5 million for HIP in its Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal. This amount will support:

  • Year-round operation of the program. Consistency is critical to the success of HIP. The suspensions that have occurred have limited farmers’ ability to plan, and limited the effectiveness of the program in changing consumers’ eating habits.
  • Continued growth in participation. We are estimating 15% growth in participation.
  • Additional points-of-sale. Adequate funding would allow the program to open up participation to a few additional farms in areas of the state that are currently underserved by HIP.

HIP is increasing access to healthy food in some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable communities and creating markets for local farms. Every dollar dedicated 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, up to a monthly limit dependent on household size, for SNAP dollars spent on fruits and vegetables purchased at participating farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs across the Commonwealth.

Since HIP’s launch in April 2017, SNAP recipients have purchased more than $9 million of produce from local farmers, earning back an equal amount of incentives in the process. That’s a 600% increase in sales of fresh, healthy, local foods directly from local farms to low income families from 2016 to 2017. More than 55,000 households have participated in the program as of February 2019, representing more than 102,000 individuals. Close to 50% of the households that have utilized the program include a senior, 30% include a child, and over 33% include a person with a disability. The program’s success also means annual savings of more than $1.9 million in public health costs, due to reductions in chronic disease and medical costs brought about by healthy eating.

For the more than 200 farmers participating in HIP, this $9 million in increased sales has made it possible to hire more staff, 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 $10 million in financial transactions in the Commonwealth. 

During the last legislative session the Legislature unanimously voted to dedicate $4 million for HIP in the FY19 budget and $2.35 million in a FY18 supplemental budget. These resources helped shorten a temporary shutdown in the spring of 2018 and extend the program into the winter of 2018. The program has seen approximately 25% growth in incentives earned during FY19, with fewer new households than FY18, which shows that participants are staying with the program and utilizing their maximum benefit.

The Commonwealth’s decades of innovative anti-hunger work and investments in direct-to-consumer sales of farm products set the stage for HIP’s success. HIP has earned national attention for its sizable participation from both SNAP recipients and farmers, and for its first-of-its-kind 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 evident. Ongoing financial support from the Commonwealth for 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 carry on with improving the health of our residents, 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 legislators

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

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

  1. Support any budget or amendment that includes $8.5 million for HIP in fiscal year 2020.

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

  3. Support An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program (S48, Senator Anne Gobi and H145, Representative Paul Mark).

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.

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 Rebecca Miller at the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative.


Spread the word

Please encourage your customers to call their legislators 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 legislators today to ask them to support HIP. Follow the link for details! [Link to https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/sub/hip-indivs/]

Tweet

Better access to healthy food and sustainability for local farms! Call or email your state legislators today to support the Healthy Incentives Program! [Link to https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/sub/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 $9 million in fresh, healthy, local foods to more than 55,000 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 legislators today and ask them to support HIP. If you’re not sure who your representative or senator is, you can find out here: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. When you reach them or their staff, ask them to:

  1. Support any budget or amendment that includes $8.5 million for HIP in fiscal year 2020.

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

  3. Support An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program (S48, Senator Anne Gobi and H145, Representative Paul Mark).

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

Invite your legislators to visit

If your farmstand or farmers market is open for business this time of year, invite your local legislator 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 Rebecca Miller .