The State Nutrition Action Council: Farmers Market Initiative

California Department of Social Services CalFresh Healthy Living


The State Nutrition Action Council: Farmers Market Initiative (SNAC) is policy, systems, and environmental change intervention designed to:

  • Increase knowledge of Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs available at farmers markets.
  • Increase knowledge of locally grown fruits and vegetables and how to use, cook, and store them.
  • Increase the use of Market Match and CalFresh redemption vouchers to support low-income shoppers in maximizing their purchasing power.
  • Increase state and local partnerships of FNS funded programs to support a welcoming market environment that accepts multiple FNS food benefits. 

In 2018, SNAC focused on increasing low-income shoppers’ utilization of their food and nutrition program benefits at local Farmers Markets, and in 2019, SNAC expanded its Farmers Market Initiative (FMI) into additional counties and markets, as well as added an on-site navigator component. The navigator model was tested at three markets, and the CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) Navigators were found to address barriers to shopping at farmers markets, including lack of knowledge and comfort using food assistance benefits. 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. The FMI has continued to expand into new counties in California since 2019 and increases in food benefit redemptions at FMI markets has sustained. 

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Food Insecurity/Food Assistance

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

SNAC targets low-income Californians at farmers markets that accept the USDA food and nutrition benefit programs (SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)). The SNAC Farmers Market Initiative was implemented in nine counties with 35 participating farmers markets in 2021. An additional 17 organizations and partners, including social service offices, WIC offices, local health departments, and other community organizations participated in the initiative by disseminating marketing materials and promoting information about using SNAP/EBT at Farmers Markets and about the Market Match program. The campaign was leveraged at community events, during one-on-one interactions, on social media, and at markets. In 2021 alone, 63,540 promotional materials were distributed, reaching 334,031 low-income Californians.

Setting: Farmers markets, Other: SNAC partners – extension offices, social service agencies, local health department, department of aging, WIC

Target Audience: Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women, Parents/Mothers/Fathers, Adults, Older Adults

Race/Ethnicity: Special focus on Latino, Asian, Black or African American, and White communities.

Intervention Components

SNAC includes the creation and distribution of marketing materials, outreach to farmers market managers, support and coordination with local agencies implementing FNS programs, and onsite CFHL Navigators. The materials provide an increased awareness of local farmers markets, Market Match, and FNS benefits that can be used. The CFHL Navigator provides support to shoppers by distributing materials, promoting accepted FNS benefits, providing information on how to use benefits, explaining Market Match, and offering interactive nutrition activities at the market. Nutrition activities at the market drive shoppers to the market and provide the opportunity for engagement.  To promote the initiative and implement these activities, coordination with local partners is an essential component of the program. Promotional materials and a local agency representative and/or a CFHL Navigator at the market are also a core component as they help increase FNS benefit redemption rates.

Intervention Materials

SNAC intervention materials include:

  • Get More at the Farmers Market campaign guide
  • Get More at the Farmers Market trifold brochure
  • Get More at the Farmers Market poster
  • Get More at the Farmers Market flyer
  • Get More at the Farmers Market postcard

All material listed above are located on the CalFresh website. Documents are listed under Get More at the Farmers Market Toolkit under the Additional CalFresh Toolkits tab.

Intervention Costs

Materials available at no cost.

Evidence Summary

To evaluate SNAC, feedback sessions were held at a WIC clinic with English and Spanish speaking participants that tested messages and materials. Based on the feedback, brochures were printed with both English and Spanish text, which helps participants and their families translate and understand the content fully. The design of the materials was updated to include feedback from WIC participants, which included a picture of a family shopping at the market, brighter pictures of produce, and increased brightness and contrast in the brochure to ensure ADA compliance. The results of the 2021 evaluation demonstrated that among all SNAC FMI intervention markets for which redemption data were obtained (n=26), distribution and redemption of benefits increased in 2021 compared to 2020. On average, monthly CalFresh redemptions increased by 36% and monthly Market Match redemptions increased by 43% across FMI markets. In addition, average monthly CalFresh transactions increased by 24%. In markets that newly adopted the FMI in 2021, large increases were seen in total benefit dollars distributed and redeemed during intervention months and in Market Match customers and CalFresh transactions. Notably, average monthly Market Match redemptions increased by 91% and average monthly CalFresh transactions increased by 87% in these markets. There was also a 116% increase in Market Match customers per month from 2020 to 2021, in new intervention markets. Finally, monthly averages by market for CalFresh and Market Match redemption data have been tracked from baseline (2018) through current implementation (2021) at FMI intervention market sites. Both CalFresh and Market Match redemptions continue to show upward trends since the first year of the initiative.  

The unintended benefits of the intervention include:

  • Strong partnerships resulted in uptake of on-site collaborative education activities and the CFHL Food Navigator Program during the 2021 FMI season.  
  • The COVID-19 pandemic led to more digital engagement with communities and further illuminated how farmers markets are a critical community food access point. The FMI provided coordinated messaging about food and nutrition benefits and food access points in the community during a public health emergency. 

The challenges include:

  • The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on farmers market activities has been substantial since March 2020. The pandemic prevented some counties from having robust on-site programs and prevented shopper intercept surveys from occurring. Although more counties hosted CFHL food navigator activities at more sites in 2021, these activities were not documented consistently. It is unclear how Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) expansion in 2021 affected redemption results. 

Evidence-based Approach: Practice-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Environmental Settings ST7 MT5
Sectors of Influence ST8 MT8

ST7: Organizational Partnerships

  • ST7a: 35 unfunded partners (markets), 17 local FNS partners
  • ST7b: 35 markets as cooperators, 17 local FNS partners cooperators

ST8: Multi-Sector Partnerships and Planning 

  • 10 state-level SNAC partners at the coalition level that regularly meet, exchange information, and identify and implement mutually reinforcing activities that will contribute to adoption of one or more organizational changes or policies. 

MT5: Nutrition Supports

  • MT5e: Number of promotional efforts for SNAP bonus programs at the markets (i.e. posters, recipe cards that feature seasonal fruits and vegetables, taste tests) and at community partner organizations (i.e. distribution of customizable flyers and brochures outlining how to use benefits at the market, postcards, social media posts)
    • 15,754 promotional materials distributed in all farmers markets and community sites
      • Trifold Brochures: 797
      • Posters: 835
      • Flyers: 3,706
      • Postcards: 6,416
    • MT5f: 47,786 promotional materials distributed through email, direct mailing, and text message.

MT8: Agriculture

  • MT8b: Nine markets began offering Market Match and were selected to participate in this pilot as a result. This intervention supported a 25.7% increase in intervention markets accepting Market Match.
  • MT8e: 334,031 individuals with household incomes below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level in all zip codes where the intervention farmers markets were held.  

Evaluation Materials

Tools used in the evaluation of the SNAC Farmers Market Initiative include: 

  • Key Informant Interview Guide: Market Managers
  • Consumer Intercept Survey
  • Comparison Intercept Survey
  • Local Partner Survey 
  • State Partner Survey 
  • Farmers Market Initiative Promotional Efforts Activity Log
  • Farmers Market Initiative Virtual and Remote Activity Log
  • Farmers Market Initiative Local Partner Success Story Template 

To access evaluation materials, please contact Amy DeLisio.

Additional Information

Website: The SNAC Toolkit can be found on the All Resources page of the Center for Wellness and Nutrition website in the Toolkits section.

Contact Person(s):
Amy DeLisio, Executive Director
Phone: 916-265-4042