Representative Mike Connolly is pleased to advise that the state's Department of Transitional Assistance has announced that the Healthy Incentives Program will continue this winter, at least through February 28th.
The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) provides an additional $40 to $80 per month to low-income SNAP recipients for fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from Massachusetts farmers at local farmers' markets, farmstands, and mobile markets.
On October 12, Rep. Connolly visited the Central Square Farmers’ Market in Cambridge to talk with customers, vendors, and staff who were all expressing frustration and disappointment after the state's Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) had abruptly announced plans to suspend the popular program on November 21.
Rep. Connolly immediately reached out to colleagues in the legislature to raise awareness about the surprise announcement and to help organize support for a legislative response. On October 15, the legislature took action with a supplemental budget that allowed the program to access over $1 million in previously-unused funding. In turn, DTA recently announced that the program will continue through the holidays.
"For many individuals and families in our community, the HIP program is vital to ensuring access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown fruits and vegetables. I am grateful that we have been able to find a way to make supplemental funds available to the program this winter, and I would like to thank Senator Gobi and Representatives Donahue and Pignatelli for their strong advocacy in support of this program," Rep. Connolly stated.
"As a society, I believe we have a duty to make fresh fruits and vegetables readily available to all people, regardless of income or other factors, and so today I am grateful that the HIP program will continue to allow us to move closer to this very important goal."
The HIP program is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance, in partnership with the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Department of Public Health, and is supported by a grant from USDA, state financing, and private donations. As of October 1, 2018, $6.7 million in HIP incentives had been claimed by some 39,500 families since the program was launched in April of 2017.
Rep. Connolly will continue working with legislative colleagues and all interested stakeholders to support the continuity and growth of the Healthy Incentives Program in 2019 and beyond. For now, the Office of State Representative Mike Connolly would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Cambridge and Somerville constituents!