Farmers Markets Are for Everyone: Help Make Fresh Food Accessible to All

December 16, 2022

Like you, we believe that healthy food is a right, not a privilege, and that farmers markets truly are for everyone. When you donate to Foodwise, you are helping families in need put fresh, local food on the table, while strengthening vital lifelines between small California farms and our Bay Area community.

Inflation is at a record high, and everyone is feeling it, especially when it comes to food. From October 2021 to October 2022, the cost of groceries increased a staggering 12.4%. The cost of fruits and vegetables rose 9%, while eggs skyrocketed 43%.

Lower-income individuals feel the greatest burden of these rising costs, and Bay Area families are struggling with food insecurity even more than they did during the pandemic. The number of San Franciscans receiving food assistance through CalFresh (also known as EBT or food stamps) has increased by 56% since 2019.

At Foodwise, we’ve witnessed the economic impacts on our neighbors first hand, as the number of shoppers using CalFresh at our farmers markets has tripled since 2020. With your donations and support, we’ve welcomed new customers to the farmers market, while helping them make the most of their food budget through Market Match

Market Match is a nutrition incentive program for low-income families offered at Foodwise’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and Mission Community Market in addition to 130 other farmers markets across the state. When a customer uses their CalFresh EBT card at Foodwise markets, they receive an equal amount in Market Match tokens for free to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

No one should have to choose between eating nutritious food and paying for rent, medicine, or other necessities. By doubling their buying power at the farmers market, Market Match ensures that families can put fresh, local food on the table.

Nearly every month of the past year, Foodwise has seen a month-over-month increase in the number of customers using Market Match. In 2022, Foodwise has distributed $110,000 in Market Match so far—a 67% increase compared with $66,000 in 2021. 

Last year, Foodwise increased our Market Match to to $15 (previously $10) to meet the growing demand, a higher match than most farmers markets offer. This has attracted new customers and helped them make shopping at the farmers market part of their weekly routine, from families with small children to retirees, and from middle-age working adults to college-age youth living on their own for the first time. 

“It’s really opened up my taste buds and spectrum for veggies and fruit and all kinds of things,” says market regular Kerry. “Without [CalFresh], a lot of people wouldn’t be able to feed their families or be able to buy foods that are healthy.”

The corresponding increase in income for small family farms at Foodwise markets has given additional strength and sustainability to our local food system. “The thing is, we depend on these markets just in order to survive,” says farmer Poli Yerena of Yerena Farms, who sells berries and vegetables at both the Ferry Plaza and Mission markets. “We want to make it affordable for all people, so CalFresh is helping us a lot. Not only us but the customer, too.”

While Foodwise receives federal grant funding for Market Match, we depend on your support to provide matching funds and ensure that we can meet the growing needs of our community. You can help us continue to ensure food access for all in the New Year with a donation today.

Foodwise’s Market Manager Deven Okry speaks to the warm sense of community that programs like Market Match make possible by welcoming longtime shoppers and new friends. “I see a lot of Market Match customers bringing their friends along or making new friends as they’re waiting in line. A lot of the seniors in particular will say ‘Thank you for being here. The farmers market is my outing for the week and it means a lot to me.’”

Support Fresh Food Access for All

By supporting Market Match at Foodwise farmers markets, you can keep farmers markets inclusive and accessible to all, support family farms, and help your neighbors in need put fresh food on the table. Nourish and grow our market community with a donation today.

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