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SNAP incentives increase fresh produce purchases

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Incentives Pilot project increased produce consumption among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.

The pilot, conducted in Hampden, MA, demonstrated that providing financial incentives to SNAP recipients at the point of sale increases the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Under HIP, SNAP participants received an incentive of 30 cents for every SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables credited back to their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer card.

“We’re very encouraged by these results, especially in light of other successful fruit and vegetable incentive programs such as Double Up Bucks in Michigan, Wholesome Wave and others,” Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, said in a press release. “All of these programs are showing that incentives to low-income families work to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.”

The HIP was authorized and funded by Congress in the 2008 farm bill. The farm bill passed by the Senate in June 2013 includes $100 million in federal matching funds to support fruit and vegetable incentives for SNAP recipients.

“We are hopeful that this funding will be included in the final version of the 2013 farm bill and support the expansion of these incentives to thousands of low-income families,” said DiSogra.