Groups Want More Funding for CA Farmers' Market Program
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
BERKELEY, Calif. - As budget negotiations continue in Sacramento, hunger-fighting advocates are asking state lawmakers to put $20 million toward a program that helps get fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income families.
"Market Match" gives people who rely on CalFresh a dollar-for-dollar match, good at hundreds of farmers' markets and other farm-direct sites.
Carle Brinkman, Food & Farming program director for the Ecology Center, which manages Market Match, said community need shot up during the pandemic.
"With the Market Match program alone, we saw about 40% increase in program participation between 2020 and 2019," she said. "Usually, program growth is somewhere around 10%."
Gov. Gavin Newsom already included $15 million in his May budget revision for the California Nutrition Incentive Program, which funds Market Match. Brinkman said an extra $5 million would support the growth of the program through 2025.
Jenna Fahle, program manager for the Farmers' Market Access & Equity program team at the Ecology Center, said the Nutrition Incentive Program puts healthy food within reach of people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
"Fruits and vegetables are also very costly and, often, something that families won't choose to purchase when they're stretching food dollars," she said. "So this program, it helps people access fruits and vegetables."
She said the money also benefits small and mid-sized farmers, who sell at farmers' markets. A study from Colorado State University found that every dollar spent on this type of incentive program generates $3 for the local economy.
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