Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
Increasing fruit and vegetable intake is one of several strategies to improve one’s diet. Most U.S. adults do not meet the Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake, especially people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and other low-income Americans. Evidence suggests that improved diet quality could help reduce rates of chronic disease and obesity (USDHHS, 2010).
Beginning in 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service worked with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to create and implement the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) in Hampden County, Massachusetts.
HIP tested a way of making fruits and vegetables more affordable for SNAP participants. Under HIP, SNAP participants received a financial incentive for purchasing targeted fruits and vegetables (TFVs). For every dollar of SNAP benefits spent on TFVs at participating retailers, households received an additional 30 cents on their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which could then be spent on any SNAP-eligible food or beverage. The pilot ran from November 2011 through December 2012.
Abt Associates and its partners Westat and MAXIMUS evaluated the impact of HIP on SNAP participants’ intake of fruits and vegetables. The HIP evaluation used a random assignment research design, widely viewed as providing the strongest evidence of causal impact. In addition to determining impacts on fruit and vegetable consumption, the evaluation also assessed the program’s implementation and documented costs, focusing on the program’s operational feasibility and potential for national scale-up.
The evaluation found that HIP had a significant impact on participants’ diet. Most notably:
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.