State reps. to tour Granby Farm, advocate for HIP program on Thursday

The Gazette, May 27, 2019, By DUSTY CHRISTENSEN

GRANBY — Local advocates and elected officials will tour Red Fire Farm on Thursday to celebrate the return of a state program that reimburses food stamp recipients for the cost of fresh, local produce.

Funding for the state’s Healthy Incentives Program, or HIP, dried up last year, but was reactivated on Saturday. The program allows SNAP/EBT recipients to earn matched incentive dollars for buying fruits and vegetables from local farms. Advocates are seeking an increase in the program’s funding to $8.5 million in the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, and will be joined by state Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, and state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton, to tour Red Fire Farm at 11 a.m.

“HIP is really a win-win for local agriculture and lower-income people in our community,” Red Fire Farm co-owner Sarah Voiland said in a statement. “It’s made such a difference for our farm, with more visitors to our farmers’ markets and farm store, and more members of our CSA program.”

Red Fire Farm customers can use HIP benefits at the farm’s Granby store or at the farm’s booths at the Northampton and Springfield farmers’ markets.

The Thursday tour of the farm is open to the public and people are encouraged to attend to speak to elected officials and food-access advocates about HIP. The tour will include samples of local organic produce and food store samples, and light refreshments will be served.