“It helps stretch my ebt money if I use market match. I can get 2x the produce because of “10 for 10 match”.Anonymous Shopper
The Farmers’ Market Promotion Project (FMPP) was a three-year project between 2019 and 2022 to raise awareness about the Market Match program through the distribution of $3 Farmers’ Market coupons to promote 8 target farmers’ markets within San Mateo County (SMC). The goal of this project was to increase access to fresh, local, and affordable fruits and vegetables for individuals and families that receive CalFresh Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits.
The coupons were used as an extra incentive to promote the use of CalFresh EBT at farmers’ markets and encourage people to visit any of the farmers’ markets that participate in the Market Match program: Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Pescadero, East Palo Alto, College of San Mateo, 25th Ave in San Mateo, Redwood City Mobile Farmers’ Market, and Belmont. The Market Match program makes fresh produce more affordable at farmers’ markets when someone is using their CalFresh benefits. Currently, many beneficiaries of CalFresh benefits do not know they can use their CalFresh EBT cards at local farmers’ markets.
“THROUGH MARKET MATCH I DISCOVERED HOW I CAN USE CALFRESH AT FARMERS MARKETS. I HAVE ACCESS TO INCREDIBLE PRODUCE.”
Market Match is a statewide nutrition incentive program that provides matching funds so low-income shoppers can buy more fruits and vegetables. It most broadly focuses on the federal benefit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the national level, and allows EBT beneficiaries to double their buying power up to a certain amount when using the CalFresh EBT card at participating farmers’ markets. This means that if someone spends $10 of their CalFresh benefits, they will receive an additional $10 in Market Match money and they now have $20 to spend at the market. This program directly maximizes the benefits of CalFresh recipients by making their existing funds available for higher quality food products, and making it go further, while also directly benefiting the small-scale local farmers at the markets by increasing the amount of money that is able to be spent with them and on their produce. Market Match is available year-round and makes a significant impact on food accessibility for many qualifying community members.
COLLABORATION WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS
In order to carry out this project, we reached out to hundreds of community-based organizations, including organizations we have partnered with in the past and new potential partners who may have access to ideal beneficiaries of the program. Partners included food pantries and meal distribution sites, schools, affordable housing sites, health clinics, churches, senior centers, libraries, farms with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) like Fifth Crow Farm, Boys and Girls Club, and many more. The goal was to connect with as many spaces with established relationships with Market Match eligible community members as possible to better raise awareness of Market Match.
From 2020 to 2022, Fresh Approach collaborated with a total of 142 community partners to promote Market Match in SMC through the distribution of 101,663 physical outreach materials. During this time, partner organizations were essential in getting their community members to act on the outreach marketing strategies and visit the farmers’ market to redeem the $3 farmers’ market coupons.
In addition, data collected at the target farmers’ markets related to CalFresh and Market Match shopper use were analyzed and compared to baseline data from 2019. In order to better evaluate the program impacts, the data was also compared to “control” farmers’ markets in another Bay Area county that did not have an outreach campaign using coupon incentives. In the first two years of the project, all Farmers’ Market data was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but by using the “control” farmers’ markets, we were able to observe significantly higher benefits used in SMC where the project occurred. Since the launch of the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, we saw a 463% increase in Market Match use for SMC.
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
Throughout all three years of the project, the South San Francisco Farmers Market was planned to be a part of the Market Match promotion in SMC, however, the market remained closed due to the impacts of COVID-19. This led Fresh Approach to focus on 7 out of the 8 planned target markets in 2020 and 2021. Fresh Approach also operates a mobile farmers market that accepts SNAP and offers Market Match. The Mobile Farmers’ Market Program launched a new route in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City in late 2021. With the launch of the new route, this site was included in 2022 as one of the target markets to increase food access points in SMC.
In 2022, Fresh Approach expanded its Market Match outreach strategy to collaborate with local volunteers, who conducted peer-to-peer and community partner outreach via word of mouth and flyering during the high-peak season for farmers’ markets. As a result of collaborative outreach efforts, our community volunteers distributed flyers to promote Market Match within their communities.
While funding for the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program has ended, Fresh Approach actively continues to promote Market Match at participating farmers’ markets. Our collaboration with community partners increases access to fresh, local, and affordable fruits and vegetables for individuals and families that receive CalFresh benefits, advancing the overall inclusivity within these spaces. With these types of programs community members are better able to engage with the local food system, nourishing themselves while supporting the local food economy and their farmers.
FIND A PARTICIPATING FARMERS MARKET NEAR YOU: This link will take you to a list of all the farmers’ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area Counties that participate in the Market Match program: https://www.freshapproach.org/calfresh-market-match-find-a-participating-farmers-market/
If you are not sure if you are eligible for CalFresh Benefits, call 1-877-847-3663 to find out.