New research brief shows increased farmers market dollar-for-dollar match for CalFresh shoppers impacts market sales revenues

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.