Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Hampden County, Mass. will conduct the first-ever Healthy Incentives Pilot, an incentives-based program to empower low-income Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the program will use $20 million to research whether incentives for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will increase their purchase of healthful foods.
The Healthy Incentives Pilot will enroll 7,500 randomly selected SNAP households to receive incentives. For every dollar participants spend on fruits and vegetables using their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, 30 cents will be added to their benefit balance, thus cutting the cost of fruits and vegetables by almost one-third.
Massachusetts was selected competitively based on its comprehensive pilot proposal that included very thorough and strong design, implementation, staffing and management plans. Hampden County is a mix of 27 urban, rural, and suburban cities with a total of 50,000 SNAP households. The majority of recipients are concentrated in the areas of Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee. Massachusetts will begin operating the pilot in the fall of 2011.