Increased Funding for California Farmer’s Market Program

Low-income families looking for healthy food in California got a boost Wednesday. Gov. Jerry Brown approved a bill that will increase funding for farmers market programs that assist access to quality food at a lower price.

Gov. Brown signed a state budget that includes $5 million for the California Nutrition Incentives Act. The funding will coincide with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, helping launch a program to allow farmers markets to provide discounted food for low-income families.

Currently, the state uses the Market Match program. The program is funded through a grant from the USDA and administered by the Ecology Center in Berkeley. The grant runs out at the end of this year, but Brown’s action will boost the programs effort.

“With this funding, the state of California has put its money where its mouth is in terms of supporting healthy eating for low-income families,” Martin Bourque, executive director of the Ecology Center, said in a statement. “The demand for Market Match has consistently outstripped the supply of funds. The additional $5 million will allow us to expand the program toward our goal of offering Market Match at every farmers market in the state.”

The Market Match program allows low-income families receiving federal assistance to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at farmers markets.

The increased funding was secured in part by over 200 nonprofit organizations, including Roots of Change and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, who worked to fund the program.