After attending a CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE – County of San Luis Obispo event in which they shared the economic impact of CalFresh food access programs, local food advocate Alhan Diaz-Correa began to ask the question: do opportunities exist for North County residents to use these programs to purchase fresh, locally-grown produce?
A coalition of organizations (including the Community Environmental Council, Route One Farmers Market, Rooted Language Services, SBC-Public Health Dept., Fund for Santa Barbara, FSA-Little House by the Park, FoodBank of Santa Barbara County, Dept. Social Services- SBC, community advocates, and more) came together and launched the FRESA working group to collaborate and increase CalFresh users’…
Throughout the summer of 2020, the working group conducted outreach to raise awareness about the economic benefits of increasing access to CalFresh, and of making it possible to spend CalFresh benefits at the Farmers Market. These programs not only support the community but also the local growers and Farmers Markets themselves, said Diaz-Correa. In Santa…
In the fall of 2020, FRESA drafted a community survey to ensure their next steps and strategies were informed by the community. Their goal was to find out how comfortable community members felt going to a Farmers’ Market, what time would work best for them, and what language they speak. Survey questions were informed by…
From December 2020 to the spring of 2021, FRESA surveyed food-insecure families at Santa Barbara County FoodBank distribution sites to learn how they could better serve residents and improve food access.
The Fund for Santa Barbara awarded the SBCFAN working group $6,000 which allowed FRESA to hire paid language interpreters at each meeting.
FRESA closed their community surveys and began analyzing the data. By then, they had received over 500 responses and had a number of languages represented including English, Mixteco dialects, Zapoteco, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese, Zapoteco, and Ni.
The Santa Barbara County CalFresh Healthy Living program allocated around $25,000 to support the work of FRESA.
FRESA crafted a mission statement, created materials, logos, and published their survey analysis. The working group developed infographics to communicate and present their findings to funders, organizations, and community members.
During the fall, FRESA hosted language justice training in partnership with Rooted Language Services. “When we talk about food access we are not only talking about supporting programs like CalFresh, but also language justice and providing culturally relevant food. Food is culturally based.”
Future plans for activation:
- The working group is currently seeking opportunities to launch a Farmers’ Market in Guadalupe. They hope to host at least one pop-up market for the community.
- FRESA will be providing policy recommendations on increasing CalFresh access in North County.
- “FRESA seeks to increase food access and address food insecurity by building a coalition and strategizing to equitably change the policies of these Farmers’ Markets.”
- “Our root concern is access to healthy food and to develop a farmers’ market that shares and welcomes vendors and consumers that are multilingual. Our project aims to address food insecurity by changing Farmers’ Market policies.”
- “Although our County is one of the most agriculturally productive in the state, there is a dramatic disconnect between the food produced in our region, and a significant portion of people in our county that are unable to benefit from it. This project will bring heightened awareness to food insecurity that will hopefully lead to social change.”