Release No. 0413.10
USDA Office of Communications 202-720-4623
Selects Massachusetts to Test Ground-Breaking Nutrition Pilot Program
SNAP Recipients to Receive Incentives for Healthy Eating
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced
that Hampden County, Mass., will conduct the first-ever
Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) – an incentives-based program to empower
low-income Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. The 2008 Farm Bill
authorized $20 million to research whether incentives for participants in the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program)
will increase their purchase of healthful foods.
"This pilot project will empower low-income Americans to eat more nutritious
food and has the potential to strengthen the SNAP program that serves as a
critical safety net to the most vulnerable in our society," said Agriculture
Secretary Vilsack. "Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially
in the place of higher calorie foods, can help move America towards healthier
lifestyles and a healthier future."
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.
"The Healthy Incentives Pilot is an incredible step towards reducing obesity
by encouraging low-income Americans to add more fruits and vegetables to their
diets," said USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services
Kevin Concannon. "It's time to move forward with innovative approaches like HIP
to get Americans eating more healthily."
Secretary Vilsack also announced the selection of Abt Associates, Inc. of
Cambridge, Mass. as the independent contractor to evaluate HIP. The evaluation
will focus on whether incentives increase the consumption of fruits and
vegetables and how participants' overall diets are affected. Researchers will
also study HIP effects on the State, retailers and other SNAP stakeholders and
assess the feasibility of implementing HIP nationwide.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will provide Federal oversight of the
pilot and evaluation. FNS oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance
programs. These programs serve one in four Americans over the course of a year
and work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. SNAP, the
largest of these programs, helps more than 40 million Americans each month put
healthy food on the table. Visit
www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance