The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) helps community members with SNAP benefits buy more fruits and vegetables for their households. The program was temporarily suspended on Sunday, February 23. We received many calls at the station regarding the freeze on the benefits. The program was meant to be year-round, but with so many people needing it, the money runs out sooner than expected.

Luckily, another $2 million was approved for the program this week. According to Mass.gov, "The Healthy Incentives Program’s winter operation has been extended. HIP benefits are available again as of Friday, March 6, 2020."

Families across the state have earned millions in HIP incentives since the program started back in 2017 and Massachusetts has hundreds of HIP authorized farmers and vendors. SNAP households are automatically enrolled in HIP. They can use SNAP benefits to buy fruits and vegetables from a HIP authorized farm or vendor and receive one dollar for each dollar spent on eligible fruits and vegetables, up to a monthly limit.

HIP incentives can be earned at participating:

  • Farmers' markets
  • Farm stands
  • Mobile markets
  • Community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm share programs

We reached out to Victoria Grasela, the Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement for United Way of Greater New Bedford and a key organizer of the Mobile Market program. "We are so excited to hear that the HIP program has been reinstated for 2020! Fresh produce is expensive and programs like HIP or our Mobile Market, which operates in the summer/fall, allows individuals and families to access fresh, healthy food options - at no cost. This is HUGE for residents in our community."

Important: A SNAP balance is required to earn the HIP incentive benefit. The monthly cap is based on household size. This extra benefit can be used right away or saved for another shopping trip. There are no limitations on where you can use HIP incentive dollars. This benefit may be used anywhere SNAP is accepted.

To find a list of HIP authorized farms and vendors, visit the MassGrown Map. New Bedford Indoor Farmers Market is every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm at the First Unitarian Church in downtown New Bedford, located at 71 Eighth Street.

To learn how to include more fruits and vegetables in your meals, please visit www.mahealthyfoodsinasnap.org.

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