Convened in early 2016, the Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network (OH NIN) is a multi-sector coalition that utilizes a collective impact approach. Our Network increases affordable access to healthy food for Ohio’s under-served communities, while strengthening local farms and economies.
Utilizing a hub-and-spoke model, the Network builds on the autonomy and expertise developed over the years by Ohio’s regional program, while maximizing the efficiency and opportunity derived from statewide collaboration & centralized administration.
OSU Extension Cuyahoga County (Northeast): Produce Perks was developed in 2010 by the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition and is currently implemented by Ohio State University Extension Cuyahoga County. Produce Perks was piloted at four farmers’ markets in 2010, and has grown to be offered at 20 farmers’ markets, 9 farm stands, one Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and one mobile market in Cuyahoga County during the 2017 market season. Produce Perks is also offered at the Medina Farmers’ Market in Medina County, the Haymaker’s Farmers’ Market in Portage County, and the Wellington Farmers’ Market in Lorain County. Since 2010, Produce Perks in Cuyahoga County has funneled approximately $400,000 into the local economy.
Produce Perks Midwest (South): Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Produce Perks Midwest serves the Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, and Athens regions of southern OH and is the administrative hub for the Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network. In 2014, a partnership of public and private entities came together to operate a nutrition incentive program known as Produce Perks. Modeled after the OSU Extension Cuyahoga Co. Produce Perks program, we began with six farmers’ markets in Cincinnati. In three short years, we have grown to serve over 20 distinct food access points throughout southern OH, including farmers’ markets, retail grocery stores, mobile markets, and CSAs.
Our key partners include Interact for Health, the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Green Umbrella, the City of Cincinnati Health Department, OSU Extension Hamilton Co., and the OH Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities Program.
Veggie SNAPS (Central): In 2014, managers from six central Ohio farmers’ markets introduced a program to increase access to the healthy foods sold at their markets among the vulnerable populations in central Ohio. In its first year, Veggie SNAPS provided over $5,000 in incentives in 637 transactions to 303 unique customers. Since then, our program has increased the number of customers served and incentives distributed each year.
At the end of our third season, Veggie SNAPS has more than doubled our number of customers from 644 in 2014 to 1,666 in 2016 and expanded the number of participating markets to 14; generated over $37,500 of economic activity in Central Ohio bringing new dollars to 144 fruit and vegetable growers who sell in our 14 market; and leveraged local investment to receive $35,000 in additional funding from local and national sources.
Veggie SNAPS is generously supported by the Franklin County Commissioners, the City of Columbus. We are also grateful for early investment by the City of Columbus.
Countryside Conservancy (Summit County): Countryside Conservancy works to connect people, food, and land by increasing public awareness of how food and farming impact personal, community, and environmental health, and by inspiring personal commitment to building a resilient, sustainable food culture. Countryside was established in 1999 as a cooperating partner of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) to rehabilitate and revitalize abandoned and underutilized farms within park boundaries. That project, named the Countryside Initiative, is unique in North America and is nationally recognized. In 2017, eleven farms are occupied and operational.
In 2004, Countryside established the first farmers’ market in a National Park, to provide a direct-to-consumer outlet for Countryside Initiative Farms, as well as other regional farmers and food producers. Countryside manages an urban market in the Highland Square neighborhood of Akron and a winter market, located at Old Trail School. Countryside continues to increase access to local and healthy produce and food at its own markets, as well as through community partnerships to establish Neighborhood Mini-Markets in food deserts.
Farmers Market Association of Toledo (Northwest): Is organized as a farmers cooperative, not for profit operation. Our organization manages the Toledo Farmers’ Market as well as the Westgate Farmers Market and new this year the Promenade Farmers’ Market. The Toledo Farmers’ Market which is the flagship of our operation is a year round permanent structured market located in the Historic warehouse district of downtown Toledo. Since 1832 the Toledo Farmers’ Market has been the connection between consumers and Farmers in our community. We have over 100 vendors that participate in our markets throughout the year. We operate Customer Service Centers at all of our markets to handle, Credit Card as well as SNAP (Ohio Direction Card) as well as incentive programs Double Up Food Bucks and Produce Perks.
Ohio Department of Health: The Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program focuses on interventions that change the environment to make healthy options the default choice. CHC funds 23 counties across the state to implement healthy eating, active living and tobacco free living strategies. Supporting work with farmers’ markets and SNAP incentive programs is a priority of the CHC program as well as the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) 2017-2019. The SHIP directs the state’s many opportunities to improve health outcomes, reduce disparities and control healthcare spending by laying out specific goals and strategies designed to achieve measurable improvements on key priorities. In 2017, CHC contracted with Wholesome Wave to further the work of the Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network. The contract includes incentivizing SNAP participants’ purchases of fruit and vegetables at farmers’ markets and retail venues as well as a fruit and vegetable prescription program for people with pre-diabetes participating in Diabetes Prevention Programs.
Case Western Reserve University: The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is one of 26 applied population health research centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The mission of the PRCHN is to foster partnerships for developing, testing, and implementing strategies to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic disease. The PRCHN has five major areas of research and evaluation. One of these areas is focused on Healthy Food Access and Community Nutrition including numerous studies in communities across the state of Ohio and nationally focused on improving healthy eating through policy, system, and environmental interventions to make the healthy choice the easiest choice. Researchers at CWRU developed FM Tracks, an iOS-based mobile and online application for collecting and reporting nutrition incentive program data, which will be used as the primary data collection tool for evaluating farmers’ market expansion of Produce Perks. CWRU will assist with monitoring and analyzing data from the participating farmers’ markets and grocers to evaluate the effectiveness of the statewide Produce Perks program.