Jun 11, 2021
The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance is once again working with Massachusetts Farmers Markets to offer the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (commonly known as food stamps).
Massachusetts residents enrolled in SNAP are automatically enrolled in HIP. When someone uses their SNAP card at an approved farmers market to buy fruits and vegetables, they immediately receive back a dollar-for-dollar incentive.
The incentive is allocated per household size:
- 1-2 people = $40 per month
- 3-5 people = $60 per month
- 6+ people = $80 per month
This is money above and beyond the monthly SNAP allowance. If a customer does not use their monthly HIP incentive, it does not accrue. Please note that a SNAP user must have a SNAP balance to be able to receive incentive. The money will debit, then immediately credit back to their account.
As an example:
A customer living alone who receives $120 per month in SNAP dollars has $40 in HIP incentives available to them. They can go to a farmers market and use their card to buy fruits and vegetables and up to $40 a month will immediately be credited back to their account. By using the HIP incentive, they will have increased their $120 monthly benefit to $160.
The HIP brochure offers these hints for using the program:
- Check your SNAP balance before you get to the farm or farmers’ market. You must have money in your SNAP balance when buying from a HIP retailer.
- Know your monthly limit, based on household size: $40 (1-2 people) $60 (3-5 people) $80 (6+ people). Your HIP limit starts over on the first of each month.
- Look for the HIP logo and shop. You can buy fresh, canned, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables. They must not have added sugar, salt, fats, or oils.
- Pay for your purchase with your EBT card. You will get your SNAP money you spend on eligible fruits and vegetables put right back onto your EBT card, up to your monthly limit.
- Check your receipt. You can see the amount of HIP dollars you earned after each sale.
- The HIP dollars you earn are added back into your SNAP balance. As always, you can spend that balance on SNAP food at the farmers’ market or at any other location where SNAP is accepted.
- Once you reach your monthly limit, HIP money will no longer add onto your card. If you want, you can still spend SNAP to buy more food.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources website (https://massnrc.org/farmlocator/map.aspx?Type=Farmers%20Markets) lists the following farmers markets that accept SNAP benefits in the SeniorCare 9-community area of service:
- Annisquam Farmers Market, 34 Leonard St, Gloucester
- Beverly Farmers Market, Rantoul St & Railroad Ave, Beverly, https://www.beverlyfarmersmarket.org/, 978-712-9054
- Cape Ann Farmers Market, Harbor Loop, Gloucester, www.capeannfarmersmarket.org, 978-381-3656
- Rockport Farmers Market, 16 Main St, Rockport, http://rockportexchange.org/
For more information about the Healthy Incentives Program, visit www.mass.gov/HIP or call SeniorCare’s Nutrition Program at 978-281-1750.
For information and assistance with SNAP benefits, contact your local food bank. Beverly Bootstraps (https://www.beverlybootstraps.org/, 978-927-1561) serves residents of Beverly and, through a partnership with the Acord Food Pantry, residents of Essex, Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, and Topsfield. The Open Door (https://www.foodpantry.org/, 978-283-6776) serves residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Topsfield, Boxford, Hamilton, and Wenham.