At REC’s Beaver Brook farmers market this week … pics by Ron O’Clair:
I bought some Red Raspberries with my food stamp card, and it turns out that under the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), the $4 a pint cost was 100% refunded to my account! I questioned this because I thought they only gave a ½ discount but was told that I could buy something like up to $40 in fruits and vegetables – all food sold at the REC FARMERS MARKET – and it would be refunded in full by the HIP program. I was quite astonished to hear this.
– Ron O.
The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP):
HIP doubles the value of purchases of fresh, healthy, local fruits and vegetables when SNAP recipients use their monthly benefits to purchase these products directly from Massachusetts farmers at farmstands, farmers markets, mobile markets, and community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms.
The program aims to improve health outcomes in some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable communities, while increasing sales for Massachusetts farms – job creators and drivers of the local economy.
More than 39,000 households participated in HIP in the program’s first year of operation, and earned approximately $4.2 million in incentives. More than 200 farms and farmers markets participate in HIP.
“HIP has made shopping at local farmers markets that much more accessible for folks on limited budgets,” said Ashley Carter, Farmers Market Program Manager for Worcester’s Regional Environmental Council (REC), which runs the market. “We see a diverse customer base each week including large families and elders. We see customers that express how much of a difference $40 a month can make on their diets. They are happy to support Massachusetts farms. We also see what a difference this program can mean to the farmers at our markets. It has been a real gain in customers. This program is working!”
More information about HIP can be found at http://mass.gov/hip/ and https://mafoodsystem.org/projects/HIP/.
Veggie entree! Perfect for the holidays … From PETA!