Note: CalFresh Healthy Living is SNAP-Ed in California. CalFresh is SNAP.
Partnership supporting nutrition incentive programs at Farmers’ Markets increased access to healthy food for The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/CalFresh recipients and generated over $618,000 in revenue for local farms.
For low-income community members, CalFresh/SNAP incentive programs can increase their purchasing power, help reduce hunger, and improve nutrition.
Farmers’ Market nutrition incentives provide:
- economic benefits to local farmers and communities
- environmental benefit related to increased local food purchases
- increased access to healthy food in low-income communities
In San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara Counties, nine year-round Farmers’ Markets accept CalFresh and offer the nutrition incentive Market Match. However, these programs are underutilized and the communities that may most benefit from nutrition incentives are not always aware of these programs.
To increase access to Farmers’ Market incentive programs and address barriers, CFHL, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) staff convened partners through the EBT at Farmers’ Markets Work Group of the San Luis Obispo Food System Coalition. This work group includes partners from multiple sectors, including agriculture, government, private industry, and community-based organizations.
The purpose of the work group is to increase the use of CalFresh/SNAP at Farmers’ Markets to:
- create equitable access to healthy food
- support for local farmers
Through this Work Group, partners have worked to increase awareness of Farmers’ Market incentives in a variety of ways:
- social media
- direct text messaging
- distributing materials to other organizations that serve clients with limited incomes
- press releases
- paid advertisements and targeted mailings
- promotion at local food bank distributions, CalFresh offices, and Farmers’ Markets
Additionally, partners recognized a need for more community-based promotion in the north county where incentives remained underutilized. This stimulated a partnership with the Promotores Collaborative to pilot a Farmers’ Market Navigator program to increase access to Farmers Market incentives among low-income Hispanic and Latine community members.
Farmers’ Market Navigators (navigators) are leaders from the community who help address barriers to shopping at Farmers Markets’ including:
Since the launch of the program, Navigators spend one day per month conducting outreach and one day at markets welcoming new customers and answering their questions related to using the CalFresh card.
CFHL,UCCE staff provide ongoing training, technical assistance, evaluation and fund development in support of the Navigators. In addition CFHL,UCCE staff participated in promotional days during National Farmers Market Week to provide indirect education including healthy recipes, kids’ activities, and general information about eating healthy with CalFresh and Market Match benefits.
In the first six months of the Farmers’ Market Navigator program there has been an increase in the number of customers utilizing CalFresh at the markets:
- Total CalFresh customers increased 165%
- New CalFresh customers increased from 18 to 49 (172% change)
- The total amount of CalFresh and Market Match redeemed at the two markets has increased 171%
Overall, the EBT at Farmers’ Market workgroup supported:
- 325% increase in CalFresh and Market Match redemption since 2017
- $618,000 in direct income to local farmers and farmers markets
- 2 additional markets in launching their nutrition incentive program
- 1 market and 2 farm stands in starting to accept SNAP/CalFresh
- $25,000 in local funding to support market incentives and maintain a $15 match
- County Board of Supervisors recognition through adoption of a Farmers Market Week Proclamation
CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE staff and partners will continue to work together to increase awareness through community outreach and working with market managers and vendors to implement practices that enhance equitable market access for diverse communities.
For further information regarding the Farmer’s Market Initiative Navigator Program, California’s SNAC Farmers Market Initiative (FMI) is in the SNAP-Ed toolkit. In 2019, SNAC expanded its FMI into additional counties and markets, as well as added an on-site navigator component..
CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California - State Office
Andra Nicoli, MA
Program & Policy Analyst, Strategic Initiatives
Kamal Khaira, MS
CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) – San Luis Obispo County
Shannon Klisch, MPH
Academic Coordinator II
Youth, Families, & Communities Program
Rosa Vargas, MPA
Community Education Manager I