Local vegetables at the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market. Photo credit: Downtown SLO.
Local vegetables at the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market. Photo credit: Downtown SLO.

Market Match Promotes Healthy Eating, Supports Local Farmers

Author: Public Health Department and Department of Social Services
Date: 6/19/2019 9:06:38 AM

For CalFresh participants, program “doubles your money” to spend on fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets.


Summer is here and farmers’ markets are full of beautiful fruits and vegetables grown here in SLO County. Now, five local markets are participating in Market Match, a statewide program that helps CalFresh shoppers access this healthy local produce.

Market Match is an incentive program that doubles the value of CalFresh EBT (formerly known as food stamps) at participating farmers’ markets. CalFresh shoppers can swipe their EBT card at the farmers’ market manager booth and receive double the amount in tokens/vouchers, up to a certain amount.

It’s a win-win program that boosts the nutritional purchasing power of CalFresh shoppers while directly supporting local farmers.

At North County Farmers Markets (Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton and Los Osos), CalFresh shoppers can swipe their benefit card for $15 and receive $30 in tokens. During the month of June, North County Farmers’ Markets are increasing the match to $20. The San Luis Obispo downtown farmers’ market on Thursday evenings also participates in Market Match, with up to $10 in match. Shoppers can match at multiple markets in the same month.

For example, a family could shop at the Templeton market on a Saturday, swiping $15 of CalFresh EBT and getting an extra $15 in vouchers for a total of $30 to spend at the market. (As a bonus in June, the match would go up to $20, for a total of $35.) The family could then shop at the Paso Robles on Tuesday and do the same, for a total of $60 worth of local produce. Local farmers receive the full $60.

“Market Match makes fresh, local produce even more affordable for families in our community who struggle to afford healthy food,” said Jen Miller, Program Manager for Community Wellness with the Public Health Department. “We know there’s nothing like a perfectly ripe peach grown here in SLO County. Market Match is helping make sure that everyone can enjoy our local bounty.”  

"Market Match represents a true partnership to enhance access to nutritious food for local families in need," said Linda Belch, Deputy Director with the Department of Social Services. "Without this program, children, adults and seniors would be limited in their ability to access fresh, local produce and have less benefits available to them to address food insecurity in the community."

To participate, shoppers can locate the information booth or market manager at participating farmers’ markets to get matching tokens—then go shopping for produce! Shoppers can learn more at marketmatch.org.

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Participating local markets include: 

  • Los Osos: Monday, 2:00-4:30 p.m., 2nd Street and 3rd Street
  • Paso Robles: Tuesday, 9:00-11:30 a.m., 11th Street and Spring Street
  • Atascadero: Wednesday, 3:00-6:00 p.m., Sunken Gardens, East Mall Ave. 
  • San Luis Obispo: Thursday, 6:00-9:00 p.m., Higuera Street
  • Templeton: Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., City Park, 6th Street

For SLO County residents who have difficulty purchasing healthy groceries because of cost, CalFresh may help alleviate that burden. To learn more or enroll in CalFresh, visit GetCalFresh.org or contact the Department of Social Services. (Some farmers’ markets also accept CalFresh but do not offer a match. For a list of these markets, see the Ecology Center market finder.)

The program can have an especially powerful impact for children. Locally, nearly 16% of all children experience food insecurity at some point during the year, meaning they have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food. Food scarcity for children can harm their health and development—including an increased likelihood of hospitalization, poor performance in school, and higher risk of developing chronic diseases.

Market Match is funded primarily by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It was founded in 2009 by Roots of Change and today operates as part of the Ecology Center.