A new research brief developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute presents findings from an evaluation that examines how changing the maximum dollar-for-dollar match incentive levels offered to CalFresh participants at farmers markets impacted markets sales revenues. The California Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP in California) provides CalFresh shoppers with a dollar-for-dollar match when purchasing California-grown produce at participating markets. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Food and Agriculture acquired funds to temporarily increase the maximum incentive from $10 to $15 at a sample of farmers markets. NPI researchers evaluated farmers market sales revenue data to compare the amounts of monthly CNIP and CalFresh dollars distributed and redeemed between markets where the CNIP maximum incentive level increased and those that didn't. The increases were temporary, occurring from September 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, allowing researchers to examine trends when the markets increased the incentive and when the incentive returned to its original value. The evaluation found that increasing the maximum CNIP incentive level led to statistically significant increases in the dollar amounts of CNIP and CalFresh that were distributed at farmers markets. However, it did not find statistically significant effects on the amounts of CNIP or CalFresh that were redeemed at markets. Reducing the maximum CNIP incentive level led to a statistically significant reduction in the trend of amount of CNIP redeemed per month.
Despite progress on protecting California renters from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.8 million Californians are still behind on rent payments. New findings from University of California researchers suggest more outreach on California's emergency rental assistance (ERA) program is needed. Wendi Gosliner, of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley and the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative to collect survey data on 502 low-income parents of young children residing in California. Survey results found that 22 percent of respondents who were renters deferred rent payments since March 2020, when the pandemic first began to trigger large-scale shutdowns and economic dislocation in the United States. Only 7 percent of survey respondents had received ERA relief payments during the time of interviews. Statewide, many low-income renters remain at a heightened risk of dislocation and potential homelessness when California's eviction moratorium expires on September 30. Survey findings are compiled in a research brief, which includes recommendations for how public and nonprofit entities in California can improve ERA uptake among low-income renters. The survey, part of the Assessing California Communities' Experiences with Safety net Supports (ACCESS), was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with supplemental funding from the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and Tipping Point.