A new video highlights Nutrition Policy Institute's partnership with Impact Justice, ChangeLab Solutions, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to launch "Harvest of the Month," a program which brings fresh, California-grown produce into carceral institutions around California to improve the diets of the residents, as well as improve their overall health and well-being. A national 2020 study shows that 63% of incarcerated individuals rarely or never have fresh vegetables and 55% rarely or never have fresh fruit. In September, residents at three CDRC correctional facilities in Northern California received fresh pears grown locally in Sacramento County through the new program. One incarcerated individual shares in the video, “This is the best pear I have ever eaten, it was so good, so I ate all of it.” CDCR is responsible for feeding over 100,000 incarcerated individuals and they are the single largest purchaser of food in the state. The new program aligns with two state policies that supporting institutional procurement of local produce, including California Assembly Bill 778. CDRC aims to expand the program to all 33 of its facilities across the state by October 2025. Learn more about the new program in this news story.
Nutrition Policy Institute collaborated with Impact Justice, ChangeLab Solutions and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to launch a first-in-the-nation ‘Farm to Corrections' Harvest of the Month pilot project bringing California-grown produce to incarcerated populations in California in three prisons. Several California state policies support the project, including AB-822 which provides price incentives for state agencies to purchase California-grown produce and AB-778 which requires that 60% of state agency's produce is purchased from within the state. The project, led by NPI's Wendi Gosliner, Ron Strochlic and Carolyn Chelius, produced a report summarizing the opportunities and challenges in bringing more California-grown produce to the state's prison system, a second report of promising farm-to-corrections practices from across the United States, as well as several trauma-informed nutrition education workshops across the state for formerly incarcerated individuals. The project was featured in several media outlets, including an article by FarmProgress on October 6, 2023, “'Farm to corrections' project feeds prisoners” and the My Ag Life podcast episode on October 6, 2023, 'Farm to Corrections' Project Benefits Incarcerated Individuals, Growers. The podcast recording featuring Carolyn's interview begins at 10:23. The article was also featured in the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources News & Events on September 28, 2023, “‘Farm to corrections' project provides fresh produce to people in prison, boosts California growers.”
Access to high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables in California state prisons is poor, which has negative impacts on incarcerated peoples' health and well-being. Nutrition Policy Institute and collaborators from Impact Justice and ChangeLab Solutions shared about their Farm to Corrections California project at the Northeast Farm to Institution Summit 2023. The project aims to improve access to fresh produce during and after incarceration in California. Speaker shared results from interviews with formerly incarcerated individuals, correction facility staff, policymakers, growers, and farm-to-corrections advocates as well as scans of local procurement preference policies and correction facility food purchasing records. They described efforts to conduct a Harvest of the Month pilot project and implementation of nutrition education workshops for returning citizens and other justice-impacted individuals. Speakers included Heile Gantan from Impact Justice, Carolyn Chelius from the Nutrition Policy Institute, and Vincent Young from ChangeLab Solutions. The Farm-to-Corrections California virtual session was on April 18, 2023 from 11:30-12:30 p.m. PDT. The Northeast Farm to Institution Summit 2023 tookplace virtually April 18-20 and in person in Providence, Rhode Island April 27-28, 2023.
Lack of refrigeration is reported as a leading barrier to corner stores stocking fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2018, the California legislature funded the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to offer a Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, providing grants to corner stores in food resource-poor neighborhoods to purchase refrigeration units to increase access to California-grown fruits and vegetables. A new report from NPI shows storeowners that participated in the program perceived increases in their store's ability to sell produce after installing the CDFA refrigerator. Storeowners reported the CDFA refrigerator allowed them to waste less produce and increase the variety and freshness of produce they sell. Of the 51 storeowners that participated in the study, only 14% reported “lack of refrigeration” as a barrier to stocking fresh fruits and vegetables after participating in the program, compared to 51% before participating in the program. The findings are also summarized in a two-page policy brief. Report and brief authors include Carolyn Chelius and Wendi Gosliner from the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, as well as former NPI intern Caroline Long and volunteer Taylor Baisey from UC Berkeley. The work was funded by CDFA.
The California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project aims to develop and refine a scalable model for increasing the purchase and consumption of California-grown fresh fruits and vegetables by delivering supplemental benefits to CalFresh recipients in a way that can be easily adopted by USDA Food and Nutrition Service authorized retailers in the future. The California Department of Social Services EBT, in partnership with CalFresh, Office of Systems Integration, and California Department of Food & Agriculture awarded three grants to non-profit organizations or government agencies to meet this goal. Nutrition Policy Institute's Wendi Gosliner received $90,313 as part of a larger $537,690 grant from CDSS to collaborate with the Ecology Center to evaluate and understand the experiences and impacts of the pilot project on farmers' market managers, vendors, and CalFresh shoppers. The Ecology Center of Berkeley coordinates the Market Match consortium and will pilot the new program in Los Angeles, San Bernadino, Alameda, Napa and Sacramento counties. The two-year project began on October 1, 2022. The NPI project team includes Carolyn Chelius and Sridharshi Hewawitharana. Gosliner has conducted evaluations of CDFA's Nutrition Incentive Program for the past five years.