- Author: Shannon A Klisch
Today several members of the CalFresh at Farmers Market Working Group attended the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors' meeting to accept the proclamation of August 6th -12th 2023 as SLO County Farmers Market Week. Supervisor Arnold read the proclamation and the remaining supervisors remarked on the importance of local agriculture to our community and the important connection between farmers markets and food assistance programs like CalFresh, Market Match and WIC.
Thank you to the Board of Supervisors for taking the time to recognize the importance of farmers markets to our county culture, livelihood, and vitality. Several board members specifically highlighted their support for programs that promote equitable access to local and healthy food, including the CalFresh and Market Match programs which are available at markets across our county. (To find a market near you, visit FMFinder.org)
Our CalFresh at Farmers Markets work group mission is to increase the use of CalFresh benefits at local farmers markets in order to support equitable access to healthy food and support for local farmers. Our work group includes five farmers market associations, representing ten markets throughout the county that accept CalFresh and offer the nutrition incentive Market Match. Additional partners include UC Cooperative Extension, the SLO Food Bank, County Departments of Social Services and Public Health and the Promotores Collaborative. Since 2017, our work group has helped to bring in over $600,000 in CalFresh and Market Match at local farmers markets.
Yet we know there is more work to do. There are many county residents out there who are struggling to put food on the table and who could qualify for CalFresh but are not aware of it (visit GetCalFresh.org for more info). We know there are people who currently receive CalFresh/EBT or P-EBT benefits but do not know that they can use their benefits and even get more money for fruits and vegetables with Market Match at many of our local markets.
On behalf of our working group partners, I invite everyone to come out to a farmers market near you - from Paso to Arroyo Grande during Aug 6th-12th to enjoy your local bounty, try using your CalFresh EBT/P-EBT card, and get to know your community and your farmers.
Additionally, the SLO Food System Coalition will host a social event on Monday Aug 7th at the Baywood Farmers Market from 3-4:30. We invite you to join us to learn about the Food System Coalition and to support your local farmers and food operators.
Thank you to our Board of Supervisors for the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of our farmers markets and the great work they are doing to support food access in our county.
Where can you use your CalFresh or WIC benefits? Visit FMFinder.org to find a market near you.
How? To use your CalFresh/EBT or P-EBT card at participating markets, look for the Information or Market Manager booth and a friendly staff person will help walk you through the process. You will want to have an idea of how much money you are going to spend so you can ask them to swipe your card for a specific dollar amount which will be debited from your CalFresh account. In addition, many markets will provide an extra $10 or $15 in Market Match tokens that you can spend on fresh fruits or vegetables at the market.
RESOLUTION PROCLAIMING AUGUST 6-12. 2023, AS
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY FARMERS MARKET WEEK
WHEREAS San Luis Obispo County farmers markets support the health of local residents by providing access to healthful, fresh, delicious, and local foods and agricultural products, and
WHEREAS farmers markets support small-to-medium, new and beginning, and veteran agricultural producers so they can sell their local agricultural products, generating revenue that supports the sustainability of local farms and the economic vibrance of rural communities nationwide, and
WHEREAS most farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County currently accept one or more federal supplemental nutrition assistance programs such as CalFresh, WIC, and/or Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs as forms of payment, and many also offer additional market incentives to increase the purchasing power of community members with limited incomes, and
WHEREAS San Luis Obispo County encourages all county farmers markets to accept CalFresh and other federal nutrition program as payment so that local farmers and ranchers can expand their customer base and all residents can benefit from the diverse agricultural products produced in the county, and
WHEREAS farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County help foster community connectedness and resilience by bringing together neighbors and farmers, serving as a community gathering space, encouraging tourism, and playing a role in educating community members on our local food system, and
WHEREAS farmers markets directly facilitate the selling and purchasing of local fruits and vegetables and other agricultural products and thus support the Vision of the County of San Luis Obispo as a healthy and prosperous community, and
WHEREAS San Luis Obispo County recognizes the importance of expanding agricultural marketing opportunities that assist and encourage the next generation of farmers and ranchers; building community connections and health through direct farm to consumer encounters in our communities; and supporting access to farmers markets for people on limited incomes through increasing the number of markets that accept CalFresh and other food benefit programs;
NOW, THEREFORE, to further awareness of farmers markets' contributions to San Luis Obispo County life, we, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, do hereby proclaim the week of August 6-12, 2023, as San Luis Obispo County Farmers Market Week, in conjunction with the observance of National Farmers Market Week. I call upon San Luis Obispo County residents to celebrate farmers markets with appropriate observance and activities.
The 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council (SNAC) club at Rice Elementary returned to in-person meetings this year for the first time since March 2020. 4-H SNAC is a collaboration between UC Cooperative Extension programs (CalFresh Healthy Living and 4-H) and local schools and provides 4th - 6th graders opportunity to build leadership skills and create healthy changes in their community.
Student leaders were excited to join the club this year and promote healthy living at a school-wide Family Wellness Night event, where families were invited to learn about community resources and healthy living tips. 4-H SNAC youth leaders worked together to decide which topics they wanted to promote. Ultimately they voted to host two booths including 1) a garden station where students demonstrated how to plant tomato and pepper plants and provided information on how to grow food at home, and 2) a hydration station with a spin-the-wheel game where students leaders engaged families in physical activity and shared how to make fruit infused waters to reduce their consumption of sugary beverages.
Leading up to the event youth learned about the importance of nutrition, gardening, and physical activity and the role they play in living a healthy lifestyle from the club facilitator. During club meetings, they practiced making group decisions following Parliamentary Procedure, making healthy recipes, maintaining their school garden, and playing games that focused on being physically active. Family Wellness Night was a culmination of the 4-H SNAC youth leaders' hard work where they were able to showcase all their new skills to be agents for change in their community. As a result, students reported that the best part of participating as a youth leader in this program included making food and learning how to make the world a healthier place, getting to work as a team, teaching others, and promoting healthy living at Family Wellness Night.
More information on starting a 4-H SNAC Club in your community can be found in our recently published 4-H SNAC Guide.
Funding support provided by USDA NIFA, CYFAR
California's CalFresh Healthy Living, with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – USDA SNAP, produced this material. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers. For important nutrition information, visit www.CalFreshHealthyLiving.org.
- Author: Shannon A Klisch
- Author: Jen Miller, SLO Public Health
- Author: Allen Dailey, SLO Information Technology (GIS)
- Author: Leo Ontiveros, SLO Public Health
CalFresh (also known as SNAP or food stamps) is one of our most effective tools for increasing food security; however, not everyone who qualifies for the benefits are receiving them. This adds up to a big loss in terms of potential health and economic benefits. Analysis shows that if 100% of eligible people in our county participated in CalFresh, that would bring in $32.5 million in additional federal dollars locally. This additional money for low-income households would also free up dollars for individuals to spend on other basic needs, like housing, transportation, and medical care. However, CalFresh utilization in SLO County remains low.
With the last of the emergency allotments for the SNAP/CalFresh program distributed in March, families will be facing a shrinking food budget. Emergency allotments raised each household's monthly allotment by at least $95 and helped many households in California and San Luis Obispo County stay out of poverty and continue to put food on the table.
Exploring the issues through data and geography
In a new project to continue working toward increasing food access and food security, partners from UC Cooperative Extension and the CalFresh Healthy Living programs; San Luis Obispo County departments of Public Health, Social Services, and Information Technology (GIS); and the SLO Food Bank are collaborating to, literally, put food access in SLO County on a map.
The map is called SLO County Food Assistance Programs: Access and Participation Map. It incorporates data from our county CalFresh program, U.S. Census data, local farmers markets, school meal programs, and food bank partners to visually explore the gaps in food access and food assistance. The map can be used to plan outreach strategies, to raise awareness of the CalFresh program, to identify priority areas for increasing food distributions, and to see how close farmers markets that accept CalFresh and offer nutrition incentives through the Market Match program are to low-income households and people actually on CalFresh.
How to use the food access and participation map:
Go to the map by clicking the link above or cutting and pasting this address into a web browser: https://gis.slocounty.ca.gov/sites/foodassistance.htm
Click on the icon that looks like a stack of papers to see all the possible data layers and start exploring. Click the small gray drop-down arrows to expand categories of layers, and click the check box next to layer names to turn layers on and off.
Questions to explore:
Plan Outreach to Food Insecure Communities
In SLO County, only 47.6% of the people who are eligible to receive CalFresh are actually enrolled in the program. Eligible individuals who are not enrolled could be receiving hundreds of dollars in food assistance each month. We can change that by learning which communities have low CalFresh enrollment, even though they are income eligible and then planning outreach strategies that are tailored to that particular community. To learn where there is a need for more CalFresh outreach, select the CalFresh Use Among Income Eligible layer. The darkest census tracts are the areas where outreach should be focused - a high percentage of income eligible households (at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level) but few people enrolled in CalFresh.
Use CalFresh at Farmers Markets Near You
Compare where there are farmers markets that accept CalFresh with census tracts where high percentages of people are on CalFresh. Click the Farmers Markets and CalFresh Households layers.
Food Distributions by Neighborhood
See where food is distributed and how that aligns with low-income census tracts. Click the SLO Food Bank layer and the Median Income by Census Tract layer.
How will you use the map to support food access in SLO County?
To apply for CalFresh:
Visit GetCalFresh.org, call the CalFresh Info Line 1-877-847-3663 (available in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian), or visit your local Department of Social Services office.
To find a farmers market near you that accepts CalFresh, WIC, and has the Market Match program, visit FarmersMarketFinder.org.
On Hunger Awareness Day (June 2, 2023) the SLO Food Bank and DSS will host CalFresh Application Assistance sites throughout the county. More information here./h2>/h2>/h2>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h2>/h2>/h2>
Three years ago, in early March 2020, our CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE team was sitting in our downstairs auditorium trying to figure out how we could host our annual 4-H SNAC Culinary Academy in the face of something we had never experienced, and didn't yet grasp, was going to be a pandemic that would disrupt everything. We heard that schools were shutting down for a week, maybe two. Instruction was moving online. We were in the busiest part of our school programming year, planning for our fifth Culinary Academy with a group of youth leaders we had been working with all year. Recipes had been selected, supplies gathered, food about to be purchased. And then we realized... you can't bring youth together from four different schools across two counties to cook, laugh, play, teach, and lead in the midst of an unknown infectious and global disease. It was heartbreaking and suddenly real as we were sent home from the office, laptops in tow, and told to work from home until further notice.
Fast forward three years to April 2023. Walking into a school cafeteria over Spring Break, bustling with life and young leaders perfecting culinary techniques, putting MyPlate into practice, playing and leading physical activity breaks. I don't mean to be dramatic, but I almost cried.
On April 12, 2023 about 35 youth from 4-H SNAC Clubs in the Santa Maria-Bonita and Lompoc Unified School Districts came together for a postponed 5th annual Culinary Academy. Youth worked on recipes to enhance their knife and stove top skills, food safety, and baking techniques. Youth leaders selected the healthy, low-cost recipes including omelets and pizza. Youth also learned about food preservation and water bath canning techniques from the UC Master Food Preserver volunteers.
4-H SNAC is a collaboration between several UCCE programs including CalFresh Healthy Living and 4-H, local schools, youth, and families. The goal of 4-H SNAC Clubs is to engage 5th and 6th grade youth in low-income communities in identifying and leading healthy changes in their schools or communities while building their leadership skills.
Studies show that getting kids involved in cooking and food preparation is one of the best ways to promote healthy, lifelong eating habits. With 4-H SNAC Clubs we take those healthy habits one step further as the youth spread their knowledge and skills by leading food demonstrations at their schools, in their homes, and in their communities.
- Author: Shannon A Klisch
Did you get a P-EBT card in the mail and wonder, “what is this?” You're not alone. When you're ready to activate your child's P-EBT card, call the number on the back to set-up a pin and check your balance. That little card could have several hundred dollars on it. With the cost of food lately, that can be a big help.
P-EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer) is a food benefit card that can be used like an ATM card to purchase food - with a few exceptions. P-EBT is similar to CalFresh (also known as SNAP, EBT, or food stamps) and usually you cannot use these benefits to buy hot foods or any foods that are intended to be eaten on-site. I say “usually” because there is a waiver in place through February 20, 2023 which allows people to buy hot foods temporarily with CalFresh and P-EBT in certain counties that were impacted by severe winter storms.
So now that you know a little about that white card, here are 5 things to know about P-EBT:
1) You can use your P-EBT card at many local farmers markets. Some markets will even double the first $10-$15 you redeem if they have the Market Match program. Locally, markets from Paso Robles to Lompoc to Santa Barbara accept CalFresh and P-EBT, and many also offer Market Match. Locate a market near you by visiting the Farmers Market Finder. Once at the market, look for the market manager's booth or a sign that says “EBT Accepted Here.” The person at the table will walk you through the rest.
2) P-EBT and EBT/CalFresh programs support a healthy economy. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 spent on SNAP (known as CalFresh in California) induces $1.54 in economic activity. This supports job creation, farm income, and income for all involved in the production, distribution, marketing, and sale of foods. In addition, the program helps stabilize the economy. In an economic downturn when incomes fall, spending on SNAP tends to go up (because more people now qualify for the benefits). As people spend their food benefits, income is generated for everyone along the food chain.
3) P-EBT and EBT/CalFresh support healthier people. The main goal of the SNAP/CalFresh programs are to reduce food insecurity. Food insecurity is when people don't have access to enough food for an active and healthy life. In a 2017 study, researchers found that, as food insecurity worsens, the risk for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease goes up. P-EBT and CalFresh help people put food on the table, reduce food insecurity, and can lead to improved health.
4) You DON'T need to apply for P-EBT but you DO need to apply for CalFresh/EBT. P-EBT cards are mailed directly to families with children who meet eligibility criteria. If you got a P-EBT card, but are not currently enrolled in CalFresh, you may want to consider applying. Many people who are eligible for CalFresh are not currently getting the benefits. If you think you might qualify for CalFresh, consider applying today. You can apply online or in-person (Find your local DSS Office: SLO DSS, Santa Barbara DSS. If you worry about having enough money for food, CalFresh can help!
5) P-EBT is not a public charge. Receiving CalFresh or using P-EBT benefits does not affect immigration status. Further, households who have a mix of documented and undocumented people can still apply. Find out more at GetCalFresh or KeepYourBenefits.
Now that you're ready to use those P-EBT benefits, find some healthy low-cost recipes at EatFresh and make your shopping list today.
What other questions do you have about P-EBT, EBT or CalFresh?