A new pilot program, Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) being touted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will give residents of Hampden County, Massachusetts who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously food stamps) benefits to get credited 30 cents back for every dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables when using their electronic benefits debit cards (EBT). I don’t think that paying people to eat sliced apple chips instead of potato chips will be something that SNAP recipients will swallow. First Lady Michelle Obama (can someone remind me when she was elected to office?) and the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service want to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables; and, to them, this plan seems to be one way to make it happen. The money to fund the incentives are coming from the 2008 Farm Bill, which authorized a $20 million grant for the USDA to test whether incentives to buy fresh produce will increase the purchase of healthy foods. The plan will enroll 7,500 randomly selected SNAP households to receive the benefit. The multi-million dollar grant will be distributed throughout the next three years during which an independent contractor will evaluate the efficacy of the plan to see if people are eating healthier. Interesting to test this when a previous report, “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Low-Income Americans—Would a Price Reduction make a difference? ( http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/28882/1/CAT31020515.pdf ) published in 2009 by the same department running the HIP program found that it really would not!
The report said that a 10% price subsidy would increase consumption of both fruits and vegetables by 2%o to 5% but it also found that the program would cost taxpayers $680 million per year and leave most Americans still far short of consuming their daily requirements of these foods. But maybe giving a 30% subsidy would make a difference. The HIP program upsets me because I feel that people who are receiving government subsidies should not be given more subsidies to eat healthier. They should already be spending the government’s money judicially and if they’re not, then it’s their own fault. Instead of rewarding people for buying healthier food, they should be penalized if they don’t. By their own accord, don’t let them eat cake. The HIP program upsets me because I feel that people who are already receiving government subsidies should not be given even more subsidies to eat healthy. They should know to spend the government’s (meaning us the taxpayers) money judicially and if they’re not, then it’s their own fault. Instead of rewarding people for buying healthier food, they should be penalized if they don’t. By their own accord, don’t let them eat cake.