Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2020
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2024
Grant Year
Project Director
Moss, S. C.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
The West VirginiaTurnip the Beet on SNAP Stretchproject expands upon the 2018 USDA/NIFA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive pilot project, "SNAP Stretch", to increase the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables by incentivizing entire SNAP recipient families. The project matches EBT/SNAP purchases at farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture (CSA), local grocers, and mobile markets at a dollar for dollar rate for adults. SNAP purchases will be matched at a 1:2 rate for families with children and a 1:2 for senior citizens. Children receive their portion of the match as Kids Koupons that can only be spent by children. Kids Koupons built off of a 2017 study, conducted by West Virginia University Extension Family Nutrition Program, stating that children who participated in an experimental project known as Kids Pop-Up Markets ate almost all of the produce that they purchased with $4 in Kids Koupons because they had the autonomy to select produce, according to more than 600 parent surveys. This project incentivizes children to eat healthier diets through autonomous choice and specifically caters to low-income senior citizens living in independent housing facilities by placing an emphasis on mobile markets, as fresh produce helps seniors manage chronic disease. In this 2020 application,Turnip the Beet on SNAP Stretchprioritizes the expansion of all participating sites from the current 20 to 73.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Goal 1:Increase and diversify the number of participatingSNAP Stretchsites where customers can utilizeSNAP Stretch.Participating markets may include cooperative mobile markets, school/child care-based markets, brick-and-mortar retail establishments, Community Supported Agriculture ( CSA ) models, on-farm stands, farmers markets.Goal 2: Integrate nutrition education into mobile markets, school/child care-based markets, farmers markets, and food retailers via videos, electronic media, on-site demonstrations, and cooking classes. Nutrition education will be evaluated to determine the impacts of different methods at different locations or distribution strategies. WVU FNP will provide nutrition education, and will also assist with evaluation services. Goal 3: SNAP Stretch participants report greater access to fruits and vegetables.
Project Methods
Five key strategies will be employed so as to achieve the goals and intended outcomes of this project. First, building off of the work that has already been done, additional outreach and educational efforts must occur in order to enroll more markets as participating sites. During the pilot SNAP Stretch project, the Coalition and WVU FNP reached out to markets and other SNAP firms to normalize the idea of not only accepting SNAP at their market but to also participate in SNAP Stretch. As a result, the Coalition now has a track record of providing technical support and reimbursing the market within ten days of necessary reporting. The Coalition will publicly champion and capitalize upon success stories from other markets that have joined the program. For example, the Bridgeport Farmers Market was very hesitant to participate in the SNAP Stretch program - they were convinced that no one would want to use SNAP at their market. After prolonged and multiple conversations, the market's manager ultimately decided to participate in the program. They were amazed by the number of SNAP customers that did, and still do, attend the market. Today, the Bridgeport Farmers Market is now an active ambassador for the program. When other markets contemplate their decision to join SNAP, the Bridgeport Market is always eager to share their story.The second strategy entails the ongoing need to provide markets the technical assistance necessary for accepting SNAP, learning to use SNAP terminals, and implementing SNAP and SNAP Stretch at their markets as they apply to USDA FNS. Staff will provide one-on-one support and training to markets as they design their implementation strategies. The pilot SNAP Stretch project revealed one very clear take away - one of the largest obstacles to markets accepting SNAP is access to the appropriate SNAP terminals. WV DHHR provided wired terminals, but not wireless. To purchase a terminal would cost $700-$1000, which outprices most markets. Notice that the WVDHHR providedwiredequipment - because of the rural nature of most West Virginia communities, in order for wireless terminals to be used, cell phone 'hotspots' are essential. That said, in 2019, the Coalition collaborated with the DHHR to apply for a grant that would, for the first time, allow markets to apply for wireless equipment. Unfortunately, the coalition was denied. Thus, this proposal has included an additional $17,000.00 (federal and state match) in the budget to assist markets that do not qualify for state-funded terminals - the end goal here being to obtain community appropriate SNAP terminals.The third strategy seeks to make farmers and mobile markets a family affair.The Coalition's placemaking coordinator has already undertaken the ongoing initiative to work alongside markets across the state so as to host family-friendly activities that make farmers and mobile markets fun and more inviting for the community. This strategy is specifically coupled with SNAP Stretch's "Kids Koupons". For families with children, SNAP Stretch will match their SNAP purchase at a 1:2 ratio. The second portion of the match will be given to the family as "Kids Koupons," vouchers of which can only be spent by children. Such a concept is based on a 2017 WVU FNP study that suggests that children who are involved in purchasing their own foods at Kids Pop-Up Markets are more likely to eat almost all of the produce they purchased with $4 worth of "Kids Koupons." Here, the takeaway is obvious - a child's autonomy to purchase their own nutritious food leads to higher consumption, according to more than 600 parent surveys. Thus, this project incentivizes children to eat healthier diets through autonomous choice. Additionally, nearly 80 statewide Kids Pop-Up Markets are conducted as a partnership between the Coalition, WVU FNP, and the Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective. Outreach efforts specifically address SNAP Stretch, wherein SNAP Stretch is heavily promoted so as to entice lower-income families to attend their local market.The fourth strategy entails the effectiveness of the mobile farmers market.During the pilot, the Coalition worked intensively with Thankful Valley Farms as they transformed their business into a mobile farmers market that visited all low-income senior living facilities in their region each week of the growing season. This single mobile market accounted for 57% of the total funds available for SNAP Stretch in 2019. During the pilot SNAP Stretch, senior citizens' SNAP purchases only matched at a 1:1 ratio; however, as SNAP Stretch expands, this project proposes to match senior citizen SNAP purchases at a 1:2 ratio so as to incentivize more mobile markets to specifically visit low-income senior living facilities and to test a hypothesis that seniors will access more fruits and vegetables given their financial ability and easy access.Low-income seniors often receive donations of food from food banks that are often carbohydrate-heavy and sugar-laden, these food items are not helpful for chronic disease management that is prevalent among low-income seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, on average, low-income seniors receive just $105 in SNAP benefits, and some low-income seniors must then make the unfortunate decision to pay for food or pay for medication (2018). The proposed 1:2 match that SNAP Stretch will help low-income seniors access more fruits and vegetables while maintaining more funds to purchase other needed items such as medication.The fifth and final strategy seeks to appropriately promote the SNAP Stretch program to SNAP recipients.After conducting focus groups during the Coalition's 2016 USDA Farmers Market Promotional Program, the Coalition learned that effective promotion is simply a matter of geography - around the state, effective promotional efforts vary depending upon urban versus rural populations. As such, the Coalition plans to hire a marketing consultant to make individual promotional plans with each participating market before the start of each season. With brick-and-mortar retailers, the marketing consultant will also help develop year-round promotional plans. The marketing consultant will research effective methods for program promotion within the target audience and will develop a catalog of potential promotional plans that are alterable to specific communities (i.e. a social media, the geo-targeting census tract with a high number of SNAP recipients). The corresponding budget includes funds for mailings, postcards, social media ads, and other potential promotional methods.

Progress 09/01/20 to 08/31/21

Target Audience:Providing outreach to school-age youth and seniors throughout the state of West Virginia are two primary audiences for the project. In 2021, we distributed $288,990.91 to families and $129,738.95 to seniors/grandfamilies in SNAP Stretch incentives respectively. Additionally, firms have identified that a growing percentage of families served are a combination of both target populations as a grandfamily structure. Whether that means that families of seniors providing care for their grandchildren or adults caring for both their own children and a parent. Mobile market firms promoting the program have generally chosen to set up their weekly/pop-up markets in areas within their localities where these targeted audiences are living or are receiving other services. These areas include preschool/daycare centers, local campuses, senior living facilities/residences/service providers, and churches. With the introduction of new support to the project, new reach was achieved in four new counties this year. The expansion of project types of firms and areas where firms were previously serving SNAP customers are now providing incentive savings as these firms are in operation consistently throughout the week. Changes/Problems:The need for increased spending at the firm level this year was unexpected. This impacted the rate of project expenditures greatly and in conjunction with the development of the GusNIP CRR project plan. There is concern that funds for incentives will be expended before the Coalition is able to fully onboard all 68 firms, which is an objective in the GusNIP award. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?The nationally convened communities of practice as supported by the training and evaluation team with the Gretchen Swanson Center and other coalition partners have proven invaluable. Sessions and conversations have helped in designing and developing resources/responses for new firms who all operate SNAP Stretch differently depending on their business model. Connections with the National Grocer Association and the working group to provide feedback to Point of Sale service providers in tracking nutrition incentive activities. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?The Coalition has a listserv that is shared publicly for individuals within the community to receive results from programs and activities regularly, as well as various social media platforms where we share this information. Various partners including WV DHHR, nonprofit organizations, and the firms have received results information. Additionally, information is shared with WVU FNP which can report on to their funders and network. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?The Coalition and WVU FNP as the data collection and evaluation partners on this project plan to continue to complete surveys surrounding access to and changes in eating habits from individuals as stated in Goal 3. Additional outreach and promotion of the program with partners and the public will be planned and increased to meet our intended outcomes as stated in the goals. These plans include further engagement with new markets and communities by working closely with active firms to provide mentorship and share their own best practices while aiding in the onboarding process.

What was accomplished under these goals? In the first year of this project, outcomes were achieved to increase firm involvement to a total of 39 including 26 direct-market farms, 6 mobile markets/CSAs, and 7 food retailers. These mobile markets and food retailers recruited span across four additional counties reaching more than an additional 2,000 households. Integrate nutrition education into markets and at program sites to reinforce messages and evaluate the impact of market programs on fruit and vegetable consumption. WV Food & Farm Coalition partners with West Virginia University Extension Family Nutrition Program (WVU FNP) health educators and nutrition outreach instructors to provide food demonstrations, recipe cards, and samples. WVU FNP educators and nutrition instructors target low-income populations to implement their programming. These education opportunities were coupled with the kids' pop-up markets. In addition to children receiving $4 each market to select their own produce, WVU FNP offered healthy eating education and exercises with the children. It was the hope of the experimental combination of the pop-up markets, WVU FNP programming, and SNAP Stretch available at those markets, that we would see "pester power" in action. "Pester Power" is the idea that the kids influence their parents to participate in SNAP Stretch markets so that the kids can spend their "kids koupons". In addition to the benefits from purchasing fresh produce, children really enjoy counting and paying for products with tokens. At least one firm providing produce for these markets also ran their mobile markets at these locations in the 6 counties served and saw more than an additional $1,500 made in redemptions by the targeted families