Both shoppers and California farmers are benefitting from the Market Match and the Cal-Fresh (SNAP) food programs offered by the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association (VCCFM). Market Match is California’s healthy food incentive program, which uses grant dollars to match or double a portion of the customers’ federal nutrition assistance benefits, like Cal-Fresh (SNAP), for the exclusive purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at their certified farmers’ market.
The Market Match program is available at three Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Markets: the Midtown Ventura Certified Farmers’ Market held on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pacific View Mall, the Downtown Ventura Certified Farmers’ Market held on Saturday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon held in the City Parking Lot, at Santa Clara & Palm Streets and the Thousand Oaks Certified Farmers’ Market held at The Oaks Shopping Center, east end parking lot at Wilbur Road and Thousand Oaks Blvd. from 1:30pm to 6:00pm.
The VCCFM received their first grant last year which will end in Spring 2017 and is applying for another grant which will begin in July to extend their Market Match program for two more years. “This is a win-win for both our farmers and shoppers who benefit from this program,” stated Karen Schott, Operations Manager for the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association. “We have seen over a 100% increase in program utilization since we started offering Market Match and we are delighted to join together in this public health partnership,” she continued.
According to VCCFM officials, Market Match has helped the VCCFM markets by alerting Cal-Fresh/SNAP recipients that they can utilize their benefits at a farmers’ market while providing greater affordability for their families with the added grant benefits. VCCFM notes that California farmers are benefitting by the increasing market sales and the opportunity to introduce new customers to the benefits of purchasing fresh, local produce. All Cal-Fresh/SNAP and Market Match benefits are administered through a token system available at the VCCFM Market Information Booths. The markets also accept the WIC (Women, Infants and Child) food programs at each of their locations, although there is not an established matching grant program for the WIC recipients at this time. “Expanding the WIC program will be our next goal in the process,” added Schott.
For more information on the Market Match Program or on the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association call 529-6266 or visit www.vccfarmersmarkets.com.