- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 12 December 2018
Even though it’s winter, local fruits and vegetables are still available in our abundant hills and valleys, thanks to the efforts of local farmers. For people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a special program can help to make these healthy local foods more affordable.
Through the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), participants can double the value of their SNAP benefits when making certain purchases at certain farmers markets. The program has been extended through February 28, 2019. Is is also set to resume in the spring.
HIP helps families afford more fresh, canned, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables without added salts, sugars, fats, or oils. HIP adds the amount of your purchase instantly back to your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, up to a certain value each month. If you are a household of one or two people and spend $40 of your SNAP benefits at a HIP retailer, you will earn $40 credit back in your SNAP account. For a household of three to five people, the amount is $60, and it is $80 for a household of six or more. Your receipt will show the amount of additional SNAP dollars you have earned.
Though most local farmers’ markets have closed for the season, the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market, taking place at the Four Corners School at 21 Ferrante Ave on the first Saturday of the month until March 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., participates in HIP. Beyond Franklin County, the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market takes place at the Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Saturdays through March 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market also takes place on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Northampton Senior Center at 67 Conz Street; both participate in HIP.
In addition to farmers markets, some farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) are also HIP retailers. To find more information or other HIP retailers near you, visit the HIP webpage, call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333, or look for the HIP logo.
The Nutrition Program at LifePath operates many senior dining centers and senior luncheon clubs, as well as the Meals on Wheels program, across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Home Care and other programs may offer assistance with grocery shopping. To learn more, contact us.