In the Market Match program people who receive CalFresh (food stamps), WIC, Social Security, or SSI will receive $10 in vouchers weekly or monthly (while supplies last) at participating farmers’ markets. Vouchers can only be used on fruits, vegetables and some nuts from certified growers. People can join the program by going to the information booth at any of these participating markets:
We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables to be healthier and protect ourselves from diabetes, cancer, and obesity. But It’s hard to buy fresh produce when you don’t have enough money. Market Match provides free coupons to buy fruits and vegetables that make it easier for thousands of Southern Californians to eat healthier, in collaboration with area farmers’ markets.
- You can get Market Match if you receive CalFresh: WIC: SSI: Social Security: or Social Security Disability. You must spend at least $10 of your own CalFresh or your own money to get $10 worth of Market Match vouchers. Vouchers are available only at the market. Not all farmers markets have the Market Match program: see list
- Market Match is operated with funding from California Dept. of Food and Agriculture:First 5 LA: Archstone Foundation: and by private donations including from Hunger Action LA, Mar Vista Farmers Market, Griffith Park Neighborhood Council and East Hollywood Neighborhood Council (for the East Hollywood Farmers Market.)
- The Market Match program is not a government program and is subject to changes depending on funding available.
How Can You Support the Market Match Program?
- If you can give $10 each month you will be supporting one family’s Market Match vouchers for that month.
- Your contribution goes straight to the vouchers, as administrative funding is covered by other donors.
- Donate by PayPal, The Safe and Easy Way!
The Program’s Goals: End Hunger: Promote Health: Boost the Economy: Protect the Environment
End Hunger and Promote Health: improve low income peoples’ diets by enabling them to purchase healthier food they may not be able to afford.
Boost the Economy and Protect the Environment: increase the amount of public benefit money that is earned by local California farmers growing fruits and vegetables, in the interest of promoting small, local agriculture using sustainable methods.
Results so far: Market Match has stimulated increased spending of public benefits (CalFresh) on healthier food. The Adams/Vermont, East LA, Gardena, Huntington Park and Long Beach Downtown markets reported increased CalFresh spending of 15% to 40% from 2012 to 2013. Over 6,000 Angelenos have been served by the program since 2011.
Background of the Program and Statement of Need:
The economy is forcing poor food choices leading to bad health: Nationwide 46 million Americans now use SNAP (the former food stamp program) benefits---about one in seven. With family budgets becoming tighter, however, it’s recognized that Americans’ diets are suffering as people are forced to choose affordable food rather than what is necessarily nutritious. Fruits and vegetables in particular are more expensive than other foods and likely to be passed over in favor of starchier, cheaper, more filling meals that may lack many essential vitamins and that may contribute to obesity. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, all related to poor diet, are chief drivers of higher health care costs. The cost is exacerbated to the state when low income people who must be covered by state and county funding have to seek medical treatment.
Subsidies and incentives work: Studies show that subsidies encourage people to purchase more fruits and vegetables. Bonus coupons are one approach to getting people to eat healthy. Yale behavioral economist Dean Karlan explains: "So in the case of broccoli you'd want to find out who's not eating broccoli and then pay them to eat it," he says. You don't want to necessarily make broccoli cheaper for those who are already buying plenty of it.” (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124610428 )
Nationwide, four foundations---Fair Food Network, Roots of Change, Wholesome Wave, and Market Umbrella are promoting farmers market incentive programs to address the issue of affordability of fresh produce. Wholesome Wave donated $100,000 to the City Heights Farmers’ Market in San Diego, which operated its own bonus program beginning in 2008, and also attracted startup money from San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts . In Michigan, Double Up Food Bucks now operates in 40 farmers’ markets around the state. This program was funded in 2011 by Fair Food Network using $3 million from a nationwide funder plus $1 million in matching grants.
Benefit to California Economy: The increased use of benefits for locally grown fruits and vegetables brings economic benefit to California farmers rather than sending the money out of state. Many area farmers reside and farm in Los Angeles County itself. The presence of farmers’ markets has also been shown by studies to help the economy of the surrounding area. Finally, the CalFresh program stimulates $9 in economic activity for every $5 in benefits spent.
Vision for Los Angeles County: The potential for a program like Market Match is enormous and helps address the economic recession and the health crisis caused by poor diet. Market Match is currently operating at 16 Los Angeles County markets, and a relatively small investment of $1 million could spur $1.7 million in area economic activity and combined with other endeavors, provide a concrete way of improving the diet of hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable county residents. There are 120 farmers markets in LA County, of which 40 accept CalFresh benefits. Bringing Market Match to the remaining 24 markets that accept CalFresh would be a wise investment in ending hunger, promoting health, boosting the economy, and protecting the environment.
In an age of budgets in billions, this is a small amount of money that can go a long way.