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AMHERST — A state program that increases access to fresh, local produce for households receiving nutritional assistance is at risk of ending, according to Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton.

State Senator James Eldridge asked Beaton about talk of the end of Healthy Initiatives Program due to rapidly spent funds during a Ways and Means Committee budget hearing this week at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Funding is rapidly running out, there’s no denying that,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We are a victim of our own success,” he later added.

A partnership among state agriculture, public health, and transitional assistance agencies, the program provides monthly dollar-for-dollar matching incentives to households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase local fruits and vegetables at participating farm stands.


The program is supported in part by a $1.3 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture.

SNAP families spent nearly twice the amount of the grant, over $3 million, in 2017 on produce from local farms, six times the value of SNAP benefits redeemed at participating agricultural retailers in 2016, Beaton said.