Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appears friendly toward the idea of expanding the pilot, particularly with passage of a new farm bill.
From the USDA news release:
"Although healthy foods aren't necessarily more expensive, many low income people face time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table that can make less healthy options seem more appealing," said Vilsack. "The results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot demonstrate the clear impact that promoting nutritious food choices can have on improving the healthfulness of SNAP purchases."
Vilsack also highlighted ongoing public-private efforts that provide support and incentives to SNAP participants to purchase more healthy foods. He cited a pilot project in Minnesota that offers $5 coupons to SNAP households for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables and a pilot project in Michigan to make locally sourced produce available in corner grocery stores in metropolitan Detroit.
"Research to date shows that incentives can work, but we know that no single solution can solve the problems of poor diet and obesity among American children and families," said Vilsack. "That is why we are supporting a broad spectrum of SNAP-focused strategies that empower low-income families to purchase more healthy foods."
United Fresh Produce Association also looks to the program’s potential expansion. From a United Fresh news release:
United Fresh applauds Secretary Vilsack’s announcement today that USDA’s Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) project increased produce consumption among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. The pilot, conducted in Hampden, MA, demonstrated that providing financial incentives to SNAP recipients at the point of sale increases the consumption of fruits and vegetables. 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 card.
“We’re very encouraged by these results, especially in light of other successful fruit and vegetable incentive programs such as Double Up Bucks in Michigan, Wholesome Wave, and others,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. “All of these programs are showing that incentives to low-income families work to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.”
The HIP was authorized and funded by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill passed by the Senate in June 2013 includes $100 million in federal matching funds to support fruit and vegetable incentives for SNAP recipients.