The California Nutrition Incentive Program, the GusNIP in California, provides CalFresh, known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, shoppers with a dollar-for-dollar match when using their EBT card to purchase California-grown fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets. The program recently expanded in pilot form to a few grocery stores. A new evaluation report presents detailed findings from interviews conducted by University of California Nutrition Policy Institute researchers with CalFresh shoppers from a sample of farmers' markets and other retail outlets newly implementing CNIP. Researchers explored CalFresh shoppers' experiences using CNIP; CNIP's impact on CalFresh shoppers' food purchasing decisions; and CalFresh shoppers' general feelings about the program. As one participant said, “I would say that this is probably one of the most important things that [policy makers] can do as far as helping to bring access to lower income people to fresh fruits and vegetables.” In summary, CalFresh shoppers across different market types (farmers markets and grocery stores) had positive experiences with CNIP. Participants described the program as helpful, noting that CNIP allowed them to buy more fruits and vegetables, purchase more CA-grown and organic fruits and vegetables and widen their selection of fresh produce. Participants from all market types were supportive of the program continuing and expanding to grocery stores as a means of increasing access to fruits and vegetables for CalFresh participants.
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.
A new research brief developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute details findings from an evaluation of the California Nutrition Incentive Program, a program that provides CalFresh shoppers with a dollar-for-dollar match when purchasing California-grown produce at participating farmers markets and other retail outlets. In this evaluation, NPI researchers conducted surveys and interviews with a convenience sample of CalFresh shoppers and food store managers. Overall, CalFresh shoppers reported overwhelmingly positive experiences using CNIP and store managers also found the program to be beneficial. While the results showed that CNIP utilization did not have statistically significant impacts on quantitative measures of shoppers' produce intake or food security, shoppers did report that CNIP influenced the kinds of fruits and vegetables they bought and also attributed being able to buy more fruits and vegetables to this program. CalFresh shoppers wanted CNIP to continue and supported it expanding to other retail outlets.
The California Nutrition Incentive Program provides CalFresh—known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program nationally—participants monetary incentives for the purchase of California grown fruits and vegetables at Certified Farmers Markets and small businesses. Nutrition Policy Institute was recently awarded a contract to determine how CNIP benefits can be equitably distributed in communities where participating retailers operate and to understand the impact of CNIP participation on participants' produce purchases, produce intake, and food and nutrition security. The 27-month project started on January 1, 2023, and includes NPI's Wendi Gosliner as Principal Investigator, Sridharshi Hewawitharana as project manager, and Samantha Sam-Chen as data collection manager. The team has conducted previous evaluations of CNIP, showing its promising associations with decreased participant food insecurity as well as highlighting participants' fondness and appreciation for the program and their perceptions that it increases the quantity and variety of California-grown fruits and vegetables they consume. This project is funded by a contract with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
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.