A particularly meaningful partnership has allowed the MFPs to provide proper freezing and dehydrating techniques to low-income residents who have limited abilities to replace spoiled produce yet receive large quantities of seasonal produce at food distribution sites. A successful expansion of this program included conducting a train-the-trainer for 6 Spanish speaking peer educators and bilingual nutrition educators, who led similar education at additional Food Bank sites in the County. This program engaged >1,800 low-income residents, the majority of whom were Spanish-speaking. In addition to teaching low-cost, safe home food preservation techniques, this program provided reinforcement items to support home implementation of the practices (for example, providing ice cube trays so participants can freeze citrus juice).
In San Luis Obispo (SLO) County, there are 13 year-round weekly farmers markets. Of those, eight accept CalFresh Food benefits and six offer additional incentives, like Market Match. However, these programs are under-utilized. We conducted research project that brought together community partners, including the SLO County Food System Coalition, CalFresh Alliance, HEAL-SLO, UC CalFresh, and Master Food Preservers to promote and enhance farmers markets that accept EBT/CalFresh benefits and Market Match. Collaborative efforts went into collecting qualitative focus group data, planning, developing materials and promoting the programs across the County. The project incorporated information from farmers and Spanish-speaking clients into material development. Highlighted project outputs & outcomes include:
- >98% ofFood Bank recipients reported that the lessons provided would help them increase their food resources.
- Comparing the months of January through September, participating farmers' markets saw a 30% increase in new EBT/CalFreshcustomers from 2018 to 2019. This is particularly impressive considering the increase in customers from 2017 to 2018 was only 4%.
- Overall dollar amount redemption ofCalFresh benefits and Market Match also increased by 17% and 14% respectively.