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How to Use the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP)

Step-by-step instructions for using HIP at a farmers’ market, farm stand, mobile market or CSA farm share.

Table of Contents

How do I use my HIP incentive?

Make sure you have SNAP benefits left on your EBT card. 

Review the HIP basics.

Follow the steps below. It’s easy to use HIP. You do not have to use all your HIP at once. You can make small purchases or large ones.

HIP shopping in person

  1. Find a participating HIP vendor who offers shopping in person near you. This could be at a farmers’ market, farm stand, or mobile market.
  2. Visit the vendor. Make sure they process HIP.
  3. Choose the fruits and vegetables you want to buy and swipe your EBT card to pay.
  4. The vendor will charge you in SNAP and enter the amount that is eligible for HIP.
  5. The amount eligible for HIP will immediately be put back onto your EBT card, replacing the SNAP you spent (up to your monthly HIP cap).
  6. If HIP money replaced the full amount you spent in SNAP, your receipt will show that your SNAP balance is still the same – as if you hadn’t spent anything at all.
  7. The receipt will also show the amount of HIP you have used, both in this transaction and for the entire month so far. Keep track of this amount so you know when you have used up your HIP for the month.

Example:

You have $50 in your SNAP balance. A HIP vendor charges you $10 in SNAP for tomatoes and strawberries. The $10 you spend in SNAP is instantly replaced on your EBT card. Your receipt will show that your SNAP balance is still $50 and that you have used $10 of HIP toward your monthly cap.

Example:

You have only $5 in your SNAP balance. You want to buy $10 in spinach and bok choy. A HIP vendor charges you $5 in SNAP. The $5 you spend in SNAP is instantly put back on your EBT card. Then the HIP vendor will charge you $5 in SNAP again. This $5 is also instantly put back on your EBT card. Your receipt will show that your SNAP balance is still $5 and that you have used $10 of HIP toward your monthly cap.

Notes on using HIP at farmers’ markets

At most farmers’ markets, HIP vendors will process HIP directly at their booth. Make sure the vendor you buy from can process HIP! Not all farms participate in HIP, even at the same farmers’ market. Look for a sign with a HIP logo, or ask the vendor to be sure.

At some farmers’ markets, the market will process HIP in a central location. At these markets, you can use your HIP on purchases from all farm vendors who sell produce. Here’s how this works:

  1. Choose the fruits and vegetables you want to buy from a farmer’s booth. 
  2. When you go to pay, the farmer will send you to a centralized market manager’s booth to pay. 
  3. The market manager will swipe your card and give you a receipt that shows you how much SNAP you have spent and how much HIP you have used toward your monthly cap.
  4. Take your receipt back to the farmer as proof of payment. 
  5. The farmer will then give you your produce.

Find HIP farmers' market booths and HIP farmers markets.

HIP shopping via delivery and curbside pickup

Some participating HIP vendors offer delivery to your door or curbside pickup at their location. You can place an order ahead of time by calling, filling out a form on their website, or making other arrangements with the vendor. Find vendors who offer delivery or curbside pickup.

You must be present at the time of delivery or curbside pickup to swipe your EBT card and pay for your purchase (unless your purchase is a CSA farm share, for which payment is transacted automatically). Never give out your EBT card number or PIN over the phone or online.

HIP shopping through CSA farm shares

HIP CSA farm shares are a way for you to buy a weekly basket of HIP-eligible produce via an automatic, monthly SNAP payment. To use HIP for a farm share at a participating CSA farm:

  1. Find a HIP CSA farm
  2. Contact the farmer to ensure they are currently enrolling participants in their HIP CSA.
  3. The farm will provide you with a SNAP Membership Agreement to complete. 
  4. You will sign the agreement to authorize DTA to withdraw a set amount from your SNAP account each month automatically.
  5. Payments will be sent to the farm automatically on the day you receive your SNAP benefit. HIP will instantly replace the amount you spent in SNAP, up to your monthly HIP cap. 
  6. In exchange, you will pick up your “farm share” of produce during the CSA season, typically weekly, at the scheduled time and place. Some farms may make arrangements to deliver directly to you.
  7. No EBT transaction is required in person, because you have already paid for the produce.
  8. If at any time you wish to cancel your CSA agreement, contact the DTA Assistance Line or the farm to fill out a Cancellation Form.

Can I get a HIP refund?

HIP purchases cannot be refunded. However, the vendor can provide you with an exchange of HIP-eligible produce for equal value.

How do I get the most out of my HIP incentive?

Get the most from SNAP by buying HIP fruits and vegetables when you first get your monthly benefits! You can use the money HIP puts back on your EBT card right away or save it for another shopping trip. It can be spent at any retailer that accepts SNAP.

Your monthly HIP cap starts over on the first day of each month. When your cap has been reached, you can still use SNAP to buy fruits, vegetables, and other products from a farm or other SNAP retailer. However, HIP will no longer replace the SNAP you spend.

Important:

HIP puts money back on your EBT card when you spend SNAP on HIP-eligible produce. If your SNAP balance is $0, you will not be able to make a SNAP purchase, so you will not be able to use HIP. You must have a SNAP balance on your EBT card to use HIP.

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