New program makes fresh fruits and veggies affordable for all families


Families with the lowest incomes are often those with the least access to fresh fruits and vegetables. A new program is working to change that. 

The Market Match program matches CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) purchases dollar-for-dollar at farmers’ markets across the Bay Area. It’s a sort of buy one, get one free program for produce. These funds, which come from a US Department of Agriculture grant, make it easier for low income families to receive nutritious food.  

“We have learned that there are multiple barriers that stand between low-income people and healthy diets,” explains Allen Moy of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA), which helped organize the funds at a local level. “We need to be open to hearing what those challenges are and work to find solutions.”  

Market Match is the biggest effort to date toward making farmers’ markets more affordable to low-income households. The program is estimated to help over 5,000 low-income families afford the produce from more than 60 farmers’ markets around the Bay Area. The subsidy is expected to provide over $700,000 in assistance for CalFresh customers in the two years of secured grant funding. 

The benefits of this program are twofold. The farmers who provide fresh produce for the markets will also receive help from the grant. “With the ongoing drought in the state, small farmers are being hard-pressed to be able to afford water for their crops,” Moy explains. Funds from Market Match go directly to the farmers, boosting their profits. “The more that we can make the farmers’ market sustainable and profitable for them, the more we feel we can strengthen the farmers to continue their farming.”

The PCFMA, which organizes farmers’ markets around the Bay Area, is in the process of rolling out the program. The organization partners with the Richmond Main Street Initiative on their farmers’ market, which reopens this Wednesday. The program is expected to be up and running within a month.

To learn more about the Market Match program, click here.

The Richmond Main Street Initiative Farmers' Market is open Wednesdays from 10 am to 2 pm at 13th Street and Nevin Avenue. Learn more here.

Photo courtesy Natalie Maynor on Flickr

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