California’s State Nutrition Action Council (SNAC)
California’s SNAC is a state-level collaborative with active representation from all state agencies and nonprofits that implement USDA programs. Together, the SNAC partnering organizations reach underserved people throughout their life span, providing food benefits, nutrition education, healthy community changes, and obesity prevention services to reduce food insecurity and improve the quality of life of Californians.
In federal fiscal year 2017, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) required each state to establish a State Nutrition Action Council (SNAC) to align nutrition and obesity prevention activities across Food and Nutrition (FNS) programs. SNACs are encouraged to use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Evaluation Framework as a tool to help plan and evaluate SNAC and state level partnerships. SNACs were established to maximize nutrition education efforts and improve coordination and cooperation among the SNAP-Ed State agencies, FNS nutrition assistance programs, public health agencies, and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. SNAC initiatives focuses on one or more common goal(s), promotes collaboration, and uses integrated approaches to connect efforts and resources to reduce duplication and maximize state resources.
Farmers Market Initiative (FMI)
In 2018, SNAC focused its efforts on increasing low resourced shoppers’ utilization of their food and nutrition program benefits at their local Farmers Markets. The SNAC Farmers Market Initiative (FMI) was implemented in four counties at eleven markets. By partnering with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for the initiative, SNAC promotes the utilization of Market Match; a program that allows CalFresh participants to stretch their food dollars spent at farmers markets. SNAC also promotes other programs that help low-income Californians magnify their buying power at participating markets, such as the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) FMNP vouchers and WIC Fruit and Veggie monthly coupons. Shoppers can use their CalFresh benefits at participating farmers markets and receive a matching dollar amount (up to approximately $10) to spend on fruits and vegetables at the same market.
In 2019, the SNAC FMI expanded into two additional counties and remained in all 2018 intervention counties. The FMI promoted 19 farmers markets that accepted all the FNS food and nutrition benefits programs. Each county identified a lead agency to distribute resources within the county and to assist with local coordination within on-site activities at markets.
This happened at varying degrees across the counties. Intervention counties are as followed:
- Fresno County
- Riverside County
- San Bernardino County
- San Joaquin County
- Stanilaus County
- Tulare County
These six counties encompass both rural and urban locations, have a high concentration of CalFresh participants and have existing services from a majority of SNAC partners.
The CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) Navigator Model
The CFHL Navigator model was adopted to address known barriers to shopping at farmers markets among low-income populations, including lack of knowledge and lack of comfort with using food assistance benefits. For 2019, the CFHL Navigator model was introduced at three markets within two counties. CFHL Navigators provided support to shoppers by distributing materials, promoting accepted FNS benefits, providing information on how to use FNS benefits, explaining Market Match, and providing interactive nutrition and health education activities on-site at the market for six consecutive weeks.
SNAC FMI runs annually from May until the end of September. In August of each year, program evaluation is conducted, and results are shared in a final report and through a webinar by December of each year.
The purpose of the evaluation is to measure short-and medium-term outcomes of California’s SNAC FMI work to promote Market Match and other programs that help low-income Californians increase their buying power at farmers markets. Approval of the study was obtained from the Committee for the Protection for Human Subjects (CPHS) Institutional Review Board (IRB) and deemed as exempt. Data collection methods include SNAC member online surveys, in-person consumer intercept surveys, key informant interviews, activity/social media logs, and review of CalFresh and Market Match redemption data.
How Local Partners Can Help
Strong partnerships between the markets and local agencies such as WIC, CalFresh, the Department of Aging, the County Health Department, and community based organizations is key to a successful campaign. Local agencies are encouraged to provide support by passing out vouchers, providing information, distributing material, and informing consumers of the campaign. Local partner support can also include incorporating new Market Match outreach messages into existing text message and direct mailer campaigns, posting on social media, and posting flyers and banners at various locations. Local partners will be provided with outreach materials that they can disseminate, including brochures, posters, flyers, and postcards. Partners can participate in various activities, depending on their agency size, staffing, and funding. The table below provides a snapshot of ways that partners can participate in the SNAC initiative. Efforts should be coordinated across the county among local partners so that no one agency has to do it all.