New USDA Grant Will Significantly Increase Food Access in the Bay Area
CalFresh Matched At Local PCFMA Farmers’ Markets
Concord, CA (April 1, 2015) – The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA), in partnership with the Ecology Center in Berkeley, CA, is pleased to be among the organizations that will benefit from a $3.7 million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This grant will allow PCFMA to match CalFresh (formally known as food stamps) purchases dollar-for-dollar for the next two years through the Market Match program, increasing access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for over 5,000 low-income families across 60 farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.
The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association has been offering Market Match incentives to CalFresh customers in its farmers’ markets since 2009, but was limited to providing an extra $5 in free produce after customers spend at least $10 in the farmers’ market, and for only a few months out of the year. With the FINI Grant, PCFMA will be able to double the buying power of CalFresh by matching redemptions up to $10 year-round for the next two years. They hope to have the program up and running at their farmers’ markets in early May. The combined impact of CalFresh and Market Match purchases could exceed $700,000 across all PCFMA farmers’ markets over that time.
Allen Moy, PCFMA’s Executive Director, says, “I can’t think of a single program that has had a more significant impact upon California farmers in farmers’ markets than Market Match. Market Match increases access to healthy food for low income families, increases fresh produce sales for California farmers, and spurs economic activity in the farmers’ home communities. It is a trifecta among community benefit programs.”
PCFMA expects the FINI grant to assist in forming and maintaining healthy habits in individuals and families who otherwise would not have easy accessibility to fresh, healthy food options. Distributing Market Match year-round will provide an incentive for these individuals to keep shopping the farmers’ market past the usual October benefits cut-off date, resulting in a higher long-term retention rate. CalFresh customers in PCFMA’s farmers’ markets reported that due to the Market Match program, 72% of them increased the variety of fruits and vegetables they consumed in 2014. Providing Market Match benefits consistently throughout the year with dollar-for-dollar matching will encourage recipients to visit the farmers’ market and redeem their benefits at an even higher rate in 2015.
The CalFresh Program, known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides financial support to improve the nutrition of low-income individuals and families by increasing their accessibility to fresh and healthy food options. CalFresh benefits are issued via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association exchanges CalFresh-EBT transactions for market scrip, matching the withdrawn amount through the Market Match Program.