Part of the SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions Toolkit.*
The State Nutrition Action Council: Farmers Market Initiative (SNAC) is policy, systems, and environmental change intervention designed to:
- Increase knowledge of Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs available at farmers markets
- Increase knowledge of locally grown fruits and vegetables and how to use, cook, and store them
- Increase the use of Market Match and CalFresh redemption vouchers to support low-income shoppers in maximizing their purchasing power
In 2018, SNAC focused on increasing low-income shoppers’ utilization of their food and nutrition program benefits at local Farmers Markets, and in 2019, SNAC expanded its Farmers Market Initiative (FMI) into additional counties and markets, as well as added an on-site navigator component. The navigator model was tested at three markets, and the CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) Navigators were found to address barriers to shopping at farmers markets, including lack of knowledge and comfort using food assistance benefits. CFHL Navigators provided support to shoppers by distributing materials, promoting accepted FNS benefits, providing information on how to use FNS benefits, explaining Market Match, and providing interactive nutrition and health education activities on-site at the market for six consecutive weeks.
To evaluate SNAC, feedback sessions were held at a WIC clinic with English and Spanish speaking participants that tested messages and materials. Based on the feedback, brochures were printed with both English and Spanish text, which helps participants and their families translate and understand the content fully. The design of the materials was updated to include feedback from WIC participants, which included a picture of a family shopping at the market, brighter pictures of produce, and increased brightness and contrast in the brochure to ensure ADA compliance. The results of the study demonstrated that among all SNAC FMI intervention markets for which redemption data was obtained (n=16), distribution and redemption of benefits increased in 2019 compared to 2018. On average, monthly CalFresh redemption increased by nearly 19% and monthly Market Match redemption increased by nearly 22%. Most notably, the average number of both new and repeat Market Match customers per month increased in 2019 by 28% and 20%, respectively, and markets with an onsite navigator observed a higher percent change in CalFresh transactions and Market Match customers. Markets with an onsite navigator experienced a 402% increase in CalFresh redemption for 2019 compared to 2018, with market managers reporting face-to-face interactions as the most helpful resource for explaining benefits to patrons. Based on the successes of the six-week pilot—it is also recommended to refine and expand the CalFresh Healthy Living Navigators Program in 2020 and scale it throughout the state in 2021.
The unintended benefits of the intervention include:
- The success in building partnerships, accomplishing shared goals, and strengthening an already robust pilot initiative in the second year.
- The agriculture community rallied their support around the initiative.
The challenges include:
- SNAC faced difficulty with identifying and recruiting the intended comparison population because, although the identified comparison site served a low-income and food insecure population, many people accessing food were not currently receiving benefits and had not received them in the previous six months.
*SNAP-Ed Strategies & Interventions: An Obesity Prevention Toolkit for States is a compilation of interventions. The toolkit was developed by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, The Association of SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT), and the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the USDA. It is designed and updated to help state SNAP-Ed administrative and implementing agencies identify evidence-based obesity prevention programs and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) strategies and interventions to include in their SNAP-Ed plans.