After a lifetime in the workforce, Fitchburg resident Susan was looking forward to retiring.
She had carefully planned for her future before deciding to retire, budgeting for her life on a fixed income. Heartbreakingly, Susan’s daughter lost her battle with cancer and placed her two grandchildren, ages 10 and 12, into Susan’s primary care. "I didn’t know where to turn. I was just looking for anything that could help," Susan says. "I love my grandkids but I felt like I couldn’t do enough with the limited income I receive."
Susan called Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline for help. One of our Hotline counselors was able to direct Susan to a number of resources in Fitchburg that would help ensure everyone in her family could access healthy food. First, they directed her to the Summer Food Service Program, which offers free, healthy meals across Massachusetts to kids ages 18 and under while school is out. Next, our counselors pre-screened Susan to see if she was eligible to receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). After calculating her monthly income and household expenses, Project Bread determined that Susan and her grandchildren were eligible for $236 per month in SNAP and helped her submit a SNAP application over the phone so that she could access those benefits.
The FoodSource Hotline also gave Susan information on the new Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which puts money back on SNAP recipients’ EBT cards when they purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets and CSAs. Susan was elated to hear about this type of program. "My grandkids love fruits and veggies," she explains. "During the summer I freeze a lot of fruits because they are great to snack on." The Hotline told Susan that the nearby Fitchburg Farmers’ Market was a participating location where she could take advantage of the HIP program. Now she can buy fresh fruits and veggies and the cost will automatically get added back onto her EBT card!
Susan is just one of thousands of people who have called the FoodSource Hotline since HIP was launched. In the month of June, the Hotline responded to a total of 5,683 calls, 4,644 of which were HIP-related. Our FoodSource Hotline counselors are here to help Massachusetts residents connect to programs and resources in their communities and unlock the doors to accessing federal benefits—ensuring all people in the state can access healthy food.
If you or someone you know is struggling to put food on the table, call the FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. The Hotline is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. To learn more about HIP, visit http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/basic-needs/food/snap/hip/. To find a summer meals site near you, visit http://meals4kids.org/find-summer-meal-site, download the SummerEats app for iPhone and Android, or text “FOOD” or "COMIDA" to 877-877.