SNAP pilot deserves further investment

07/25/2013 08:45:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom Karst I’m still in Washington state touring tree fruit marketers, but I notice the USDA released results of its Healthy Incentives Pilot program yesterday. Find the USDA summary here and The Packer’s coverage here.

Here are some highlights from the summary:

Under HIP, SNAP participants received an incentive of 30 cents for every SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables credited back to their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. The incentive could then be spent on any SNAP-eligible foods and beverages.

Targeted Fruits and Vegetables:

Primary impact: Interim results indicate that HIP participants (respondents aged 16 and older) consumed one-fifth of a cup equivalents more targeted fruits and vegetables per day than did non-participants. This represents a difference of 25 percent in consumption over control group members. The one-fifth cup brings consumption levels approximately 17 percent closer to the Healthy People 2020 objectives for total fruit and vegetable intake.

Fruits vs. Vegetables: Approximately 60 percent of the observed difference was due to a difference in consumption of vegetables and 40 percent due to a difference in consumption of fruit.

Incentive earnings: During the first half year of pilot operations, two-thirds of HIP households earned some incentive; the other one-third of households did not earn any incentives in a given month.

Perceived impacts on cost: The majority (70 percent) of HIP households felt that fruits and vegetables had become more affordable due to HIP.

Participant Understanding: Forty percent of HIP participants reported that they had not heard about the pilot when asked 4 to 6 months after implementation. Forty percent also reported that it was hard (or they didn’t know whether it was easy or hard) to understand how HIP works; a similar percentage said it was hard (or they didn’t know whether it was easy or hard) to remember which fruits and vegetables qualified for the incentive.

Participant Satisfaction: Ninety-five percent of respondents indicated that they would like to keep participating in HIP.

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