Clem Clay: Healthy Incentives Program deserves funding
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, April 5, 2018, by Clem Clay, Executive Director of Grow Food Northampton
We wholeheartedly agree with the March 27 column (“Hunger, health and local farmers”) by our friends at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in support of state funding for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP).
Grow Food Northampton has long worked to deliver the kinds of results that HIP makes possible by operating affordable farm-share programs for low-income seniors and families, as well as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-matching at the Northampton Tuesday Farmers Market. During the 2017 growing season, we were able to combine HIP incentives with contributions from our donors and funders to make it possible for 362 low-income households to purchase healthy, local food worth $85,000.
Crimson & Clover Farm and the farmers who sell fruits and vegetables at the Tuesday market were thrilled to serve more customers and to know that the food they work so hard to grow is within reach for families who might otherwise feel left out of the local food movement.
We are busy raising funds to make sure we can continue to offer meaningful incentives to these families in the Northampton area, but without additional HIP funding, we will be able to do less and serve fewer people than we had hoped. And in most Massachusetts communities, HIP is the only incentive program that exists, and therefore the only option for low-income families to afford locally grown produce.
As a win-win for farmers and consumers, we believe HIP has proven that it is worthy of an investment of scarce tax dollars, and we encourage readers to voice their support by visiting the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative at mafoodsystem.org/projects/hip-indivs/ and following the guidance provided there.