CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets
Recipients of CalFresh assistance can use their benefits at farmers’ markets thanks to Alchemist CDC!
What is CalFresh?
CalFresh is the name in California for the federal program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Formerly known as “food stamps”, SNAP/CalFresh loads nutritions benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transer (EBT) card which is used just like a debit card but with special machines. SNAP is the most important anti-hunger program in the United States and CalFresh provides qualifying individuals financial assistance in purchasing food for themselves and their families.
Farmers’ markets are an incredible gift to any community. They provide easy access to delicious local food and a festive atmosphere where neighbors can meet and see one another each week.
We work to make sure that farmers’ markets are truly accessible for everyone in a community. We do this by providing CalFresh access so that residents who receive nutrition benefits can spend them at the farmers’ market just like at the grocery store.
How does it work?
We operate a single CalFresh booth at farmers’ markets where CalFresh customers can swipe their EBT card and choose how much they want to take from their account. If they want $20 to spend at the market, those $20 are debited from their EBT account and turned into $20 worth of market scrip, which can be spent just like cash on groceries and vegetable seedlings with any market vendor who participates. At most markets, customers can also receive additional incentives of up to $10 each week to spend on fruits and vegetables. This helps make fresh local produce as affordable as the produce at discount grocers.
We rely on a dedicated team of staff and volunteers to operate this program at 9 farmers’ markets across Sacramento County.
Market Data 2022: January – July
Market Match Distributed
Facts and Figures
In 2021, Alchemists CDC saw $800,000 in CalFresh and Market Match dollars spent at our partner markets alone!
A UC Davis study estimates that every dollar spent at a farmers’ market in our region generates $1.86 in total community spending. Therefore, in 2021, our program helped generate over $1.48 million in extra local economic activity for the Sacramento region!
In the United States in FY2021, Alchemist’s partner markets accounted for 1.5% of SNAP (CalFresh) spent at all farmers’ markets nationwide! Our markets contributed a significant portion of the $33.5 million of SNAP funds spent at farmers’ markets, despite only accounting for 9 of the 2,984 farmers’ markets (0.03%) that accept SNAP. This means our partner markets have 5x the average national SNAP activity. (Source: 2021 Year End Summary at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailer/data )
Since it’s inception in late 2011, this program has demonstrated a clear trend of growth.
Program Sponsors and Partners