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SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – A representative of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) presented the County of San Luis Obispo with the 2023 CSDC Challenge Award during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

The annual award is presented to California counties to highlight innovative programs developed at the county level.

A total of 389 entries were reviewed with 14 programs from 11 different counties selected detail CSAC.

The San Luis Obispo County’s University of California Cooperative Extension Department developed partnerships with multiple organizations to ensure that fresh produce is more available in the surrounding community.

According to the County of San Luis Obispo, 8.4 percent of all residents and 9.7 percent of all children county-wide are defined as food insecure, or “lacking consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life”.

One of the most effective tools to combat food insecurity is CalFresh, a program administered by counties across California and known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which uses an electronic benefits card to distribute financial assistance for recipients to purchase food.

In addition to CalFresh benefits, the nutrition incentive program Market Match doubles the available purchasing power of CalFresh recipients at local farmers markets.

Thanks to the Market Match program, participating farmer’s markets can make every $1 in CalFresh benefits functionally worth $2 at a farmers market.

A working group that included farmer’s market managers and local farmers, the county’s public health and social services departments, schools, and community-based organizations was assembled to develop a plan to further improve the access that CalFresh afforded shoppers at local farmers markets.

The working group increased the number of participating markets, improved the visibility of nutrition programs through social media and direct mailers, and promoted the benefits directly at social service offices, food bank distributions, and most importantly, at the farmers markets across the county.

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