USDA Grant to Benefit Low-Income Farmers Market Shoppers

The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA), operator of the Tuesday and Saturday Alameda Farmers’ Markets on Haight Avenue at Webster Street, in partnership with the Ecology Center in Berkeley, has been named among the organizations that will benefit from a $3.7 million grant courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant will allow PCFMA to match CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps) purchases dollar-for-dollar for the next two years. The Market Match program increases access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for more than 5,000 low-income families across 60 farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.

PCFMA has offered these incentives to customers in its farmers’ markets since 2009, but was limited to providing an extra $5 in free produce after customers spent at least $10 in the farmers’ market and for only a few months out of the year. With the FINI grant, PCFMA will be able to double the buying power of CalFresh by matching redemptions up to $10 year-round for the next two years.

The program, estimated to up and running at the Alameda Farmers’ Markets by early May, is projected to create an economic impact on the Alameda Farmers’ Markets alone of around $45,000 over the two years.

"I can’t think of a single program that has had a more significant impact upon California farmers in farmers’ markets than Market Match," said Allen Moy, PCFMA’s executive director. "Market Match increases access to healthy food for low income families, increases fresh produce sales for California farmers, and spurs economic activity in the farmers’ home communities."

PCFMA expects the FINI grant to assist in forming and maintaining healthy habits in individuals and families who otherwise would not have easy accessibility to fresh, healthy food options.

For more information on the Market Match Program call PCFMA at (800) 949-FARM or visit www.pcfma.org.