This holiday season, loved ones will gather around their dinner tables to share meals, memories and gratitude. But millions of others where we live, work, go to school and worship lack the resources to meet their most basic food needs.
That’s where SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, serves as a safety net. More than 44 million people in the U.S. participate in SNAP, and two-thirds of them are children, seniors and people with disabilities.
While SNAP helps people buy food staples, state SNAP incentive programs help families stretch their benefits so they can buy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables more often. Here’s how they typically work: When SNAP participants buy certain healthy products, they receive a matching amount to purchase additional fruits and vegetables.
Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides funding for campaigns seeking to implement SNAP incentive programs. In the last couple of years, this initiative has helped five states improve healthy food access.
5 Successes to Celebrate:
Hawaii — The cost of food here is about 68% higher than the national average, making SNAP critical for the nearly 170,000 residents the program serves. To help spread and support expansion efforts, Voices for Healthy Kids awarded a grant to Hawaii Appleseed Center to lead a campaign seeking $1 million in state funding to replicate the national Double Up Food Bucks incentive program in Hawaii.
Massachusetts — The Massachusetts’ Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) doubles the dollar value of SNAP participants’ purchases at participating farm stands, farmers markets, mobile markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs across the state. Initially funded at $3.4 million, a recent advocacy campaign for the 2020 state budget included $6.5 million for HIP.
Michigan — Nearly a decade ago, the Fair Food Network collaborated with five Detroit farmers markets to field test the idea of healthy food incentives through Double Up Food Bucks. The program quickly grew statewide to more than 250 farmers markets and grocery stores. It now operates as a model SNAP incentive program in 20 states and is expanding to more.
South Carolina — Healthy Bucks lets recipients get additional fruits and vegetables when they use their SNAP benefits to buy fresh produce at participating farmers markets. It’s a temporary program only available in certain areas of the state, so in 2019, we funded an effort to make it a permanent statewide program.
Washington — Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition recently led a campaign about the state’s SNAP incentives pilot programming. The result was a 2019-21 budget that includes $2.5 million for SNAP produce incentives.
Read more success stories to learn how Voices for Healthy Kids’ SNAP incentive efforts help all children have the chance to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.