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P7 You SNAP, We Match: Improving Food Access and Stimulating a Rural, Local Food System During a Public Health Crisis

      Objective

      The objective of this study is to evaluate the implementation of a rural farmer's market You SNAP, We Match (YSWM) program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Theory of Research

      In 2018, the St. Helena Healthy Communities Coalition held a forum to develop strategies to improve community health.
      Participants identified that a local farmer's market accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits was no longer operational and reopening the market with SNAP would increase food access and improve community health.

      Target Audience

      SNAP recipients in a rural, majority Black parish in Louisiana.

      Program Description

      The St. Helena Farmer's Market YSWM program launched during the COVID-19 pandemic (July 2020), offering a $3 match for fresh fruit and vegetables for every $1 in SNAP benefits spent at the market.

      Evaluation Methods

      Observational data (customer counts, zip codes, and vendor sales) were collected at the market before and after the implementation of the YSWM program.

      Results

      Prior to implementation, the market averaged 33 customers per day. Five months following implementation, the market averaged 76 customers per day (+131.42%), and a total of $6,6213 SNAP and “match” dollars were reinvested into the local food system. Market reach also expanded. Prior to YSWM implementation, a majority of customers (95%) resided in the same town as the market. Following implementation, 66% of market customers resided in the market town (with 5% coming from over 30 miles away). More than half of SNAP customers reported being first time customers, with 92% reported visiting the market specifically for SNAP.

      Conclusion

      Since implementation, the YSWM program has remained successful while confronting unique challenges. YSWM Program implementation generated an increase in market customers, a wider geographical reach, and increased access to fresh produce for surrounding communities during a public health crisis.
      Funding Center for Disease Control and Prevention.