(Concord, May, 2012) According to results from a new poll commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 70% of Americans support a national program to double the value of SNAP benefits when used at farmers’ markets. SNAP is the federal nutrition program which replaced food stamps. It is known as CalFresh in California.
These programs are up and running in the San Francisco Bay Area where they are making fresh food more affordable and more accessible for hundreds of Bay Area residents who rely on CalFresh for their food needs.
The “Market Match” program offers farmers’ market customers an extra $5 in fresh produce when they spend at least $10 on their CalFresh EBT cards at participating farmers’ markets. All of the farmers’ markets operated by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association are offering the Market Match program throughout their 2012 seasons.
“The goal of this project is to encourage CalFresh recipients to take advantage of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables,” said Allen Moy, Assistant Director of the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. “By offering an incentive that lowers the price of fresh produce, we are helping shoppers to stretch their food dollars while keeping their families healthy. At the same time its keeping those food dollars within the state of California by supporting California farmers. It’s gratifying to see such widespread support for this type of program in the poll.”
Within the poll 93% of those surveyed said it is “very important” or “somewhat important” that all Americans have equal access to fresh produce. More than 80% strongly or partly agreed that the federal government needs to do more to increase access to locally produced fresh food, and more than 85% strongly or partly agree that state and local officials have a role to play in ensuring access to fresh produce.
The poll also found widespread support among consumers for those who grow their food. When asked if they would be willing to pay $1.50 more for produce each month to ensure fair wages are paid to those picking fruits and vegetables, 88% strongly or partly agreed. A study by the Economic Policy Institute said such a raise would increase the pay of a farm worker making $10,000 a year to $14,000, which would be above the poverty line.
Since June, 2010, the Market Match program has increased CalFresh redemptions at local farmers’ markets by over 300%. In 2011, PCFMA served over 1,900 CalFresh customers around the Bay Area at its farmers’ markets.
The program, which was formerly known as “Extra 5,” is supported by Roots of Change as a part of the California Farmers’ Market Consortium. Financial support for the program comes from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and philanthropic supporters such as Wholesome Wave.
The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association is the state’s largest operator of Certified Farmers’ Markets, with over sixty Certified Farmers’ Markets weekly in the Bay Area during the peak summer months. Certified Farmers’ Markets are locations that offer only California-grown products sold directly to consumers by the farmers that grew, nurtured and harvested the crops. All PCFMA markets accept WIC FMNP (Women Infants and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons) and CalFresh (using EBT/Golden State advantage food stamp cards). The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association can be contacted at (800) 949-FARM or visit www.pcfma.com.