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Healthy Incentives Pilot Basic Facts

What is HIP?

The Farm Bill authorized $20 million for pilot projects to evaluate health and nutrition promotion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to determine if incentives provided to recipients at the point-of-sale increase the purchase of fruits, vegetables or other healthful foods among SNAP participants. FNS refers to this effort as the Healthy Incentives Pilot or HIP. SNAP was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

  • Why is HIP important?

One of our Nation's most pressing health challenges is poor diet and inactivity. Over 17 percent of children are overweight and over 66 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Low-income individuals are particularly at-risk. If current trends continue through 2020, treating the consequences of obesity may consume up to one-fifth of health care expenditures.

The federal nutrition assistance programs administered by USDA are powerful tools to help address this problem. Nutrition assistance programs reach one in five Americans in the course of a year providing food benefits and nutrition education.

FNS has long recognized the need to explore new and innovative approaches that empower low-income Americans to consume diets that include optimal levels of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods. HIP offers the opportunity to study one such approach.

  • What was the timeframe for implementing HIP?

HIP operated for 14 months, from November 2011 through December 2012, with each participating household eligible to earn the incentive for a 12 month period.

  • How were households selected to participate in HIP?

HIP participants were randomly selected from eligible SNAP households in Hampden County, MA.

  • What is the HIP incentive?

HIP participants earned an incentive of 30 cents for every SNAP dollar they spent on targeted fruits and vegetables (TFVs) at participating retailers. The incentive was immediately credited to the household SNAP account and could be spent on any SNAP-eligible foods and beverages. The incentive was capped at $60 per household per month.

  • What are the targeted fruits and vegetables (TFVs) acceptable for purchase in the HIP?

Fruits and vegetables targeted for purchase in the HIP are those allowed by federal regulations for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) National Fruit and Vegetable Voucher. They can be summarized as follows:

  • Most fruits and vegetables are included (mature legumes in dry and canned forms and juices are not authorized).
  • Included fruits and vegetables can be in any of the following forms: fresh, frozen, canned, and dried.
  • In general, eligible fruits and vegetables must not have any added sugars, fats, oils, or salt.
  • White potatoes are excluded, but yams and sweet potatoes are allowed.
  • Where can I find the legislative references for HIP?

HIP was authorized in Section 4141 of the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

  • What does the term “pilot” mean?

A pilot is a small scale test of a concept.;

  • What was the HIP Symposium?

In October 2008, FNS hosted a symposium to consult with partners, interested stakeholders and other experts, including representatives from academic and other research institutions, private industry, federal and state governments, retailer associations and advocates. The meeting focused on a set of questions, covering key areas of interest which were provided in advance to attendees and panel members. FNS is using information gathered at the symposium to help determine the design, implementation and evaluation criteria for the pilot.


Meeting Materials:

Options for Delivering Financial Incentives to Participants for Purchasing Targeted Foods

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Page updated: November 17, 2023