New study finds that a farmers market incentive program for SNAP shoppers is associated with decreased participant food insecurity

Aug 10, 2022

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers conducted an evaluation of the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), which provides CalFresh (the California division of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants with dollar-for-dollar incentives for the purchase of California-grown fruits and vegetables (FV). The study explored FV purchases, FV intake, and food security among CalFresh shoppers at farmers markets not participating in CNIP, farmers markets offering $10 and $20 maximum matching incentives, and nearby supermarkets not offering incentives. Their findings indicate that higher CNIP maximum incentive levels are associated with greater odds of participants purchasing fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. While the researchers found no significant difference in overall food security between shoppers at farmers markets offering different maximum incentive levels, each additional incentive dollar received was associated with reduced odds of food insecurity. Although incentives did not lead to a quantitatively measurable change in produce consumption, participants did self-report a perceived increase in produce consumption and were able to purchase a wider variety of FV and support their local communities and growers. Most shoppers reported that CNIP is important in their decision to shop at farmers markets and expressed high levels of satisfaction with CNIP as well as a desire to see the program expand. Findings were published in the journal Nutrients in June 2022. The study was conducted by researchers Wendi Gosliner, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Ron Strochlic, Celeste Felix, and Caroline Long from the Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It was funded by California Department of Food and Agriculture award number 17-0212-005-SF.

By Cate Seel
By Wendi Gosliner
Contributor - Project scientist
By Ron Strochlic
Contributor - Academic Coordinator
By Sridharshi Hewawitharana
Contributor - Research Data Analyst
By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement