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For years, Tuesday Market shoppers with SNAP benefits have been able to get up to a $10 match when they purchase tokens at our market tent with their EBT cards. So far this year, we have provided a total match of $3,712 to 131 unique customers. Added to the $4,691 in SNAP benefits spent by participants, this amounts to a total of $8,403 in Tuesday Market purchases by SNAP customers in 2017 as of July 5th!
As July progresses, a new statewide matching program is being phased in at Tuesday Market and many other farmers’ markets around Massachusetts. The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), funded through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, is designed to bring more healthy local produce into SNAP recipients’ homes. With HIP, you can spend your SNAP dollars on farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at participating retailers and have the amount of your purchase instantly added back to your EBT card. The monthly reimbursement is $40 for households with 1-2 members, $60 for households with 3-5 members, and $80 for larger households.
One difference between HIP and previous SNAP matching is that transactions take place at each farmers’ stand, not at the market tent. Crabapple Farm is our first vendor to receive the equipment needed to process HIP payments at their booth. Other farms will also be getting the equipment soon, so stop by the purple Market tent to get the current farmer list, sign up for the Tuesday Market weekly email, or follow Tuesday Market and Grow Food Northampton on Facebook to get the latest updates.
Another difference with HIP is that only fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs (or plants that can be grown and eaten) are eligible for the HIP reimbursement. SNAP-eligible foods like cheese, eggs, bread, and meat are not included, but can be purchased with regular SNAP benefits after the HIP reimbursement is processed. Depending on funding availability, Grow Food Northampton will strive to continue a smaller match at the market tent to help SNAP participants afford these additional items. We are grateful for the support of donors, businesses, foundations, and community partners who have made matching possible over the years including, most recently, Cooley-Dickinson Health Care.
For more information and details about HIP, you can stop by our Tuesday Market tent, where you can regularly find the HIP ambassador from Healthy Hampshire, Andrea Schmid. The integration of HIP further lowers the barrier to fresh, healthy food, making locally grown, nutritious produce more accessible to low-income members of our community.
In addition to using HIP at Tuesday Market, you can take advantage of this benefit at the Crimson and Clover farm stand as well as other local farms and farmers’ markets listed on the HIP website. The list is updated regularly as more places get the equipment they need to process HIP dollars. SNAP is also being integrated as a payment option for all of our farm share programs, as described in this recent post, so that more families can maximize their use of the HIP benefit.