SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has received a $3.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help low-income Californians purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at certified farmers’ markets.
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant will fund the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), which begins this summer. The program addresses food insecurity by expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables among low-income Californians while also supporting and expanding markets for California farmers.
“CDFA is thrilled to be selected for this award,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The nutrition program is a triple win for California – it supports the health of our low-income shoppers, farmers, and the local economy.”
CNIP will offer nutrition incentives to encourage CalFresh shoppers to purchase healthy food and empower them to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. For every benefit dollar they spend at 339 certified farmers’ markets and mobile markets throughout California, CalFresh shoppers will receive an additional dollar to spend on fruits and vegetables at the market, within set parameters. All CalFresh shoppers can benefit from the program simply by spending their benefits at participating certified farmers’ markets.
CNIP, administered by CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork, builds on the successful California Market Match program in Berkeley, which received a two-year FINI grant in 2015. CNIP emphasizes innovative marketing and outreach to attract more CalFreshshoppers to farmers’ markets, facilitates expansion to new markets, and provides a foundation for testing technologies to make it easier for farmers’ markets to continue offering incentives. The program is made possible through a robust public-private funding structure.
CNIP was created by Assembly Bill 1321, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2015. The program was provisionally funded when the Legislature appropriated $5 million for the program in 2016, contingent on receiving matching federal funds. This state funding enabled CDFA to apply for the FINI grant. The Department is exploring a second phase of the program next year and will apply for additional matching funds.
“Access to nutritious food is the foundation for good health. The healthiest choice should be the easiest choice,” said Assemblymember Ting. “It will be exciting to see how these funds expand access to our state’s bounty by enlisting farmers’ markets in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.”