It was this system focus that led some members of the FSC to explore reasons behind the very low CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) participation in SLO County, ranking one of the lowest in the state. In 2015, a work group (CalFresh Alliance) was formed to tackle this food access issue and it is still working today to continue to increase Calfresh enrollment.
(Above photo: Jen and other FSC members listen to a presentation from the Chief CalFresh Lead from CA DSS.)
Members of the FSC leverage this collaborative group to raise food system issues to county officials and decision makers, partner organizations and institutions to understand challenges, explore solutions, and drive change. For example, participants in CalFresh Alliance were able to meet with representatives of the SLO County Board of Supervisors and the Department of Social Services to understand how they could work together to enroll more eligible families in CalFresh.
A parallel effort to CalFresh Alliance is the Market Match program which helps individuals double their CalFresh (EBT) benefits if they shop at local farmers’ markets. The FSC supported the efforts of another work group that formed (EBT at Farmers Markets) to get SLO County Farmers Markets set up with EBT capabilities and Market Match programs. The success of this group has been tremendous, with huge growth in EBT spent at local markets.
“Market Match is a win-win. It helps families stretch their food dollars while directly supporting local farmers. The success of the group (EBT at Farmers Markets) has been incredible!” - Jennifer Miller, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department
It’s this type of work that makes the FSC so special. An aggregation of agencies and organizations represents many voices and distributes information and resources more broadly throughout the food system. This representation empowers members to draw the attention of county officials and policy makers, further impacting the change that we want to see toward a more equitable, resilient, economically viable, and health-promoting food system.
If you agree with Jen, and find the work described above valuable, please consider making a donation to our organization so that our work can continue sustainably!