California Nutrition Incentive Program
The California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) encourages the purchase and consumption of healthy, California–grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts by nutrition benefit clients. Housed within the Office of Farm to Fork, the program provides monetary incentives for the purchase of California grown fruits and vegetables at Certified Farmers Markets and small businesses.
CNIP provides competitive grant funding to organizations to provide incentives to nutrition benefit shoppers, support program operations and outreach.
How it works
CNIP supports shoppers using nutrition benefits (CalFresh, formerly known as food stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program) by empowering them to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. For every benefit dollar they spend, shoppers receive an additional dollar that can be spent on fruits and vegetables at the market or retail outlet, within set parameters. Any nutrition benefit shopper can benefit from the program simply by spending their benefits at participating Certified Farmers Markets and other retail outlets. CNIP operates at selected Certified Farmers Markets, mobile markets, community supported agriculture programs, and retailers.
CNIP nutrition incentives also support California farmers, by increasing demand for their products. CNIP incentives can only be used for fresh California grown fruits and vegetables.
The California Nutrition Incentive Program is made possible through a robust public–private funding structure – including federal funding through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), formerly the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program, state general funds, and local partner support, including private donations, grants and in–kind contributions. Most recently, CDFA was allocated $20 million from the state general fund to sustain the program. CDFA also received a GusNIP Covid Relief and Response grant of $6.3 million to meet the increased demand for nutrition incentives due to the Covid-19 pandemic. CDFA received a $7.1 million grant from the GusNIP program in 2019 and a $3.9 million grant from the FINI program in 2017. These grants were made possible by using state general funds as the required federal match. CNIP funds are awarded to Certified Farmers’ Markets, non-profit organizations, and small businesses through a competitive grant process.
CNIP was established by Assembly Bill 1321 (Chapter 442, Statutes of 2015), authored by Assembly member Phil Ting. State funding was provisionally provided through a one-time allocation in the Budget Act of 2016, contingent upon receipt of federal matching funds. CDFA was awarded $3.9 million in federal matching funds through the FINI grant program in 2017, allowing the program to start operations.
With joint funding from the California state general fund and the federal FINI grant program, CNIP first launched in July 2017. CNIP funded four grantees to provide nutrition incentives to CalFresh shoppers who purchase California grown fruits and vegetables at Certified Farmers Markets and mobile markets.
In summer of 2018, CNIP expanded and began offering incentives to low–income seniors participating in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, WIC families, and CalFresh shoppers at a variety of additional retail outlets, including neighborhood retail stores, Community Supported Agriculture programs, and Certified Farmers Markets.
In 2019, CDFA received a $7.1 million GusNIP grant to continue and expand offering nutrition incentives, both in farmers markets as well as other retail settings. The GusNIP grant and matching state dollars fund seven CNIP grantees to provide nutrition incentives to CalFresh (SNAP) shoppers. The state funding was provided in the 2018 state budget.
In the summer of 2020, CNIP awarded four projects to provide nutrition incentives to shoppers using WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program benefits.
Current CNIP Grantees
The following grantees distribute incentives to shoppers using CalFresh (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) benefits. These grantees are part of CDFA's federal GusNIP grant.
Chico Natural Foods Cooperative is a community owned grocery store in Chico, California. It has been an active member in the local community for over 40 years and has established connections with a variety of local organizations aimed at ending food insecurity in the region. The co-op will offer nutrition incentives to CalFresh shoppers.
Centennial Farm Foundation works supports agricultural and youth–related education programs. Centennial partners closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency, regional food banks, the Children's Action Partnership of Orange County and other community organizations on programs for underserved populations in Orange County. Centennial Farm Foundation will distribute nutrition incentives at the Costa Mesa Farmers' Market.
The Ecology Center has a strong track record of implementing Farmers’ Market SNAP/EBT and nutrition incentive programs in collaboration with the community. The Ecology Center’s incentive program, Market Match, partners with a network of experienced Implementation Contractors to deliver incentives at farmers’ markets statewide. The majority of these operate farmers’ market sites; however, some are community-based organizations that provide an array of services including regional farmers’ market coordination, SNAP and nutrition incentive distribution on site, and shopper education. The Ecology Center will distribute incentives beginning with 263 sites and add an additional 68 sites over the course of this grant. To find farmers’ markets participating in CNIP/Market Match, please visit the Ecology Centers’ Farmers Market Finder.
The Food Trust works to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Its comprehensive approach includes improving food environments and teaching nutrition education; working with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings and helping customers make healthier choices; managing farmers markets; and encouraging grocery store development in underserved communities. The Food Trust has offered nutrition incentives through the Food Bucks program to SNAP shoppers since 2010 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In California, the Food Trust has developed a robust healthy corner store network in San Jose and will distribute nutrition incentives in these neighborhood stores under CNIP.
Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC)works to ensure food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable for all. In addition to its facilitation, research, policy development and training, LAFPC has established the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network that has brought healthy food options to neighborhood markets for over five years. Through the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network, LAFPC has provided technical assistance to stores, including marketing, business best practices, produce management, and community engagement. Under CNIP, LAFPC will run a voucher-based incentive program at some of these stores.
Mandela Partnersworks in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health and build assets in low-income communities. Mandela’s well-established network of corner stores, farm stands, and distribution partner, has extensive experience bringing fresh, quality produce to low-income residents. With its 2020 CNIP grant, Mandela will offer nutrition incentives to CalFresh shoppers purchasing California grown produce at its farm stands.
North Figueroa Association (NFA) has been running the Old LA & Lincoln Heights Certified Farmers’ Markets in Los Angeles for many years. Both markets have extensive experience accepting CalFresh/SNAP and distributing nutrition incentives. NFA was a 2017 CNIP grantee and will continue distributing nutrition incentives to CalFresh shoppers under this 2020 CNIP award.
Farmers Market Nutrition Program Incentives
The following grantees distribute incentives to shoppers using WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program benefits and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program benefits (the Senior program will be distributed in 2021 only – during the 2020 market year the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program has changed its distribution model in light of the COVID-19 pandemic). These grants are funded solely by state dollars.
Model Neighborhood Program (MNP) has long strived to ensure that all Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) recipients living in the community have access year-round to California grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Having served for over eight years as the primary WIC FMNP distribution site at its’ La Cienega Farmers Market, the MNP will apply its extensive knowledge and experience to educate, promote, and connect FMNP recipients with certified California farmers and fresh fruit and vegetables at the La Cienega Farmers Market, the Kaiser WLA Farmers Market (2021 season) and the Culver City Farmers Market.
Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association (PCFMA) will provide dollar-for-dollar matching incentives for WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program recipients at 19 Bay Area Farmers' Markets. These markets – operated by the PCFMA, Coastside Farmers' Markets, and Fresh Approach – all have years of experience serving low income and food insecure populations and each participating farmers’ market already provides matching incentives for CalFresh through the Market Match program.
Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE–LA) and Hunger Action Los Angeles (HALA) will increase access to healthy foods in Los Angeles by offering a WIC and Senior FMNP incentive program at Certified Farmers' Markets. The program will promote and incentivize the purchase of California grown fruits and vegetables by matching WIC and Senior FMNP checks dollar–for–dollar.
Visalia Farmers Market Association will use its existing and well-established three market locations in Tulare County (Visalia and Porterville) to provide additional CNIP incentives through the Senior and WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, increasing the awareness, understanding and ability of seniors and mothers with children to purchase local grown fresh fruit and vegetables.
Prior CNIP Grantees
FINI Grant Partners (CalFresh Incentives)
Downtown Napa Farmers' Market – Downtown Napa Certified Farmers' Market provided nutrition incentives to CalFresh shoppers at the market. In addition, the Market also provided nutrition education programming, including cooking classes for families, at the market to encourage healthy eating.
The Ecology Center: California Market Match Expansion and Innovation Project. The Ecology Center has operated the Market Match program since 2012. The Ecology Center partners with a network of experienced Implementation Contractors, the majority of which operate farmers' market sites; however, some are community based organizations that provide an array of services including regional farmers' market coordination, CalFresh and nutrition incentive distribution on site, and shopper education. Through the Ecology Center and its partners, CNIP distributed nutrition incentives at over 300 unique Certified Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture sites.
The North Figueroa Association: Market Match of Northeast LA. The North Figueroa Association operates two markets in Northeast LA – Highland Parks and Old LA Certified Farmers' Markets. Funding from CNIP provided nutrition incentives for CalFresh shoppers at these markets and promoted the markets and the consumption of California grown fresh fruits and vegetables to CalFresh shoppers in the area.
Wellington Square Certified Farmers' Market: Nutrition Incentive Festivals. Wellington Square Certified Farmers' Market provides nutrition incentives to its CalFresh shoppers through the Market Match Program. With funding through CNIP, the Market held monthly Nutrition Incentive Festivals to attract more CalFresh customers to the Market and provided an array of family-friendly, nutrition focused activities – including kids' healthy, hands on, cooking classes, adult cooking demonstrations and live music.
CNIP Expansion Grantees (CalFresh and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Incentives)
In 2018, CDFA solicited proposals to expand CNIP to reach low-income shoppers participating in WIC and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, in addition to CalFresh, and to expand into CSAs, farm stands, and neighborhood retail stores. The following organizations and their projects were partners in the 2018 CNIP Expansion:
Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative works to advance the production of and access to healthy food by empowering faith communities with models and resources to impact local food systems. Through CNIP, Interfaith provided nutrition incentives to low-income seniors participating in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and to CalFresh shoppers purchasing produce through CSAs and farm stands. The project operated at faith–based sites in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mandela MarketPlace works in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community–based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through cooperative food enterprises in low–-income communities. Through CNIP, Mandela MarketPlace expanded its incentive program for CalFresh shoppers purchasing California grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts at retail stores and farm stands in Alameda County.
The Ecology Center has been operating the Market Match program since 2012, and has been a previous CNIP grantee. This expansion grant provided incentives to CalFresh shoppers at 103 Market Match farmers markets throughout the state.
The Visalia Farmers Market operates farmers markets at three locations in Tulare County – two in Visalia and one in Porterville. The Visalia Farmers Market Association offered nutrition incentives at all three of its markets to WIC shoppers and to seniors participating in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.