Background and Context
Many local food-promotion activities compose Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2), a USDA-wide effort to strengthen local and regional food systems. Across the country, farmers, roadside farm stands, and farmers markets are experiencing consumer growth, particularly among SNAP-eligible shoppers. National SNAP redemptions at farmers markets totaled $18.8 million during fiscal year 2014, a nearly six-fold increase since 2008. The number of farmers markets has grown by 67 percent since 2008; there are now more than 7,800 listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory.
Instituting a bonus incentive project is one approach farmers markets are using to attract SNAP customers. These projects provide matching “bonus dollars,” in the form of tokens or paper coupons, for purchases made with SNAP benefits. The incentives, funded by private foundations, nonprofit organizations and local governments, are structured to improve the purchasing power of low-income families at farmers markets, so that they can afford to buy more fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. SNAP-Ed funds cannot be used to pay for the cash value of the incentive. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants. The FINI Grant Program supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the SNAP by providing incentives at the point of purchase.
The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provide locally grown fruits and vegetables through farmers markets to low-income seniors and WIC participants, respectively. The Food and Nutrition Service also administers Farm-to-School grants to state agencies and local operators primarily focused on procuring local foods in the National School Lunch Program, and more recently, the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.
|MT8a-1.||Total number of farmers markets that accept SNAP benefits per 10,000 SNAP recipients|
|MT8a-2.||Total number of on-farm markets that accept SNAP benefits per 10,000 SNAP recipients|
|MT8a-3.||Total number of community supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives that accept SNAP benefits per 10,000 SNAP recipients|
|MT8b.||Number of farmers markets that offer SNAP-bonus incentive programs|
|MT8c.||Number of school districts that participate in farm-to-school activities|
|MT8d.||Proportion of low-income communities with farmers markets (developmental)|
|MT8e.||Estimated number of people in the target population who have increased access to or benefit from the agricultural policy or intervention
What to Measure
For instance, to calculate MT8a-1, if a state has 178 farmers markets that accept SNAP, and an average monthly SNAP caseload of 950,000 participants, the adjustment would be equal to 178/(950,000/10,000), yielding 1.87 farmers markets for every 10,000 SNAP participants.
Similarly, track the number of farmers markets that offered a bonus incentive program, such as Double Up Food Bucks or Bonus Bucks, at any time during the farmers market season, and divide this amount by the total number of farmers markets. Bonus incentive programs may start and stop contingent on availability of private incentive funds.State departments of agriculture, farmers market associations, or farm bureaus may be an excellent source of this information. Double-Up Food Bucks is now operating in 22 state.
Track the total number of school districts that participated in farm-to-school activities during the previous school year. Divide this number by the total number of school districts in the state or local jurisdiction.
One of the outcome measures—MT8d—is developmental; there is no current system for tracking coverage of farmers markets in low-income areas in the state or jurisdiction. Use geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools, such as those at www.communitycommons.org to assess the overlay of farmers markets with areas that are predominantly low-income. This measure is to ensure that farmers markets are accessible to disparate populations.
Surveys and Data Collection Tools
Listing of farmers markets, on-farm markets, and CSAs that include SNAP as a form of payment. The directories are managed and operated by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
USDA distributed the 2015 Farm to School Census to over 18,000 public, private, and charter school districts in the United States.
Additional evaluation tools to measure MT8 can be found in the SNAP-Ed Library.
Key Glossary Terms
Additional Resources or Supporting Citations
Farmers Market Coalition
Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Data, Trends and Maps web site. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Atlanta, GA, 2015. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/DNPAO/index.html.
National Farm to School Network