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    Fresh-food program’s success cannot be its downfall

    Re “The Healthy Incentives Program is so popular, its future is now in doubt” (Food, April 4): Massachusetts’ Healthy Incentives Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match for SNAP recipients to spend on produce at farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community-supported agriculture programs statewide.

    For individuals on a limited budget, fresh fruits and vegetables can be difficult to afford. Unfortunately, processed foods are often cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables. By encouraging and incentivizing the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables, HIP makes healthy, fresh produce affordable to food-insecure families.

    Since the program’s start, more than 60,000 individuals increased their fruit and vegetable intake by one serving per day. HIP’s success has proved that low-income individuals will purchase fresh produce if it is affordable and accessible, busting the myth that they won’t. Ironically, because of this program’s success, it is now in jeopardy. With an uncertain financial future, HIP faces an uphill battle.

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    The House recently agreed to fund HIP for the remainder of the year, and we hope the Senate and the governor will agree. But what we really need is a long-term funding solution.

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    Healthy eating begets healthy lifestyles and ultimately lowers health care costs. Through HIP’s continuation, we can help ensure that everyone, regardless of income, can have access to affordable, farm-fresh produce.

    Erin McAleer

    President

    Project Bread

    Boston