What was the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP)?

The Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) was a partnership between DTA and the United States Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service (USDA/FNS), and was the only one of its kind in the country. The primary goal of HIP was to test whether providing a financial incentive to SNAP households would encourage them to purchase more healthy fruits and vegetables. The pilot launched on November 1, 2011 and ended on December 31, 2012. HIP households received the benefit for 12 months.

How did HIP work?

7,500 SNAP households in Hampden County, MA were randomly selected to be HIP participants. They earned a financial incentive (30 cents on each SNAP dollar spent) each time they purchased HIP target fruits and vegetables at a participating HIP retailer using their SNAP benefits. HIP target foods were fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar, salt, fats or oils with some exceptions. The incentive was added immediately to the participant’s SNAP EBT card and could be used on any future SNAP purchase. A participant could earn up to $60 in HIP benefits per month by buying HIP target fruits and vegetables.

What were the results of the pilot?

The final evaluation report presents findings on the impacts of HIP on fruit and vegetable consumption and spending, the processes involved in implementation and operating HIP, impacts on stakeholders, and the costs associated with the pilot. The pilot results showed that the new HIP benefit increased fruit and vegetable consumption among pilot participants. HIP participants ate 26% more targeted fruits and vegetables (about ¼ cup more per day) than non-HIP participants. This increase in consumption over non-HIP participants is both statistically significant and large enough to be nutritionally relevant, with clear health benefits for participating families.

Why are fruits and vegetables important?

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day is important because eating them lowers your chances of getting heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and some kinds of cancer. It also helps people maintain a healthy weight. The more fruits and vegetables a family eats, the healthier they will be. To find recipes on how to cook fruits and vegetables, visit the following USDA website: www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov. Please also visit USDA's HIP website at: www.fns.usda.gov/healthy-incentives-pilot-hip-interim-report.

If you have any questions about HIP please call the DTA HIP call-line: 1-888-987-4487, Monday to Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. You can also email us at: DTA.HIP@state.ma.us.