UPDATE: The program was extended for Round 2, with vouchers accepted through June 30, 2022. Customers can pick up vouchers by showing their EBT cards at the farmers’ market information booths.
In the midst of a very expensive holiday season, the nonprofit Petaluma Bounty and partners are running a program to help CalFresh customers purchase locally produced meat, dairy, and eggs from small to mid-sized farms.
The Meat, Dairy, and Eggs program provides CalFresh customers with $40 in vouchers they can use to purchase meat, dairy, and egg products at participating Sonoma County, Calif., farmers’ markets listed below.
The economic infusion comes at a critical time for limited-income consumers stretched thin by food price inflation and continued pandemic challenges.
CalFresh customers can pick up one voucher booklet per household at the information booth of any participating farmers’ market on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Customers must show their EBT card to receive a booklet and when making a purchase using the vouchers. Find more information for customers on the program’s FAQ page.The program is administered by Petaluma Bounty. It is made possible by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District’s Agricultural Support and Protection (ASAP) emergency matching grant. Petaluma Bounty designed the program, building it upon existing programs and grants including Market Match,Farmers’ Market L.I.F.E., and the USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program.
Why Meat, Dairy, and Eggs?
The Meat, Dairy, and Eggs program aims to expand and diversify the client base of direct-to-consumer farmers’ markets throughout Sonoma County. Why meat, dairy, and eggs? One reason is that the long-running Market Match program already helps CalFresh customers buy fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets by offering dollar-for-dollar matching funds up to a daily maximum. The Meat, Dairy, and Eggs program covers items that are not currently allowable purchases under Market Match.
Meat, Dairy, and Eggs is a one-time benefit that aims to help people discover/enjoy local, environmentally sustainable sources of protein; to support our local agricultural community and reinforce the importance of ecological considerations; to underscore why people should care about the source; and to support everyone in their own journey to health.
Responding to unprecedented need
Farmers’ Market L.I.F.E. is a collaborative effort by 15 local farmers’ markets to expand the customer base and local farmers’ income through nutrition incentives — such as Market Match — for CalFresh customers.
Currently, Market Match can be used for purchasing fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and edible plant starts for growing your own food. The Meat, Dairy, and Eggs program will spread the benefit of nutrition incentives to agricultural producers who are not currently eligible for Market Match funds.
CalFresh (known nationally as SNAP) is a lifeline for people experiencing hardship. In our community, hardship has come in the form of fires, air quality, floods, COVID-19, economic downturns and other disruptions that continue to undermine people’s ability to provide for themselves and their families. A growing number of working poor report their wages don’t cover their housing expenses, let alone other regular expenses.
With the pandemic came an unprecedented high use of CalFresh and Market Match at local farmers’ markets. In 2020, farmers’ markets participating in Farmers’ Market L.I.F.E. saw record increases in CalFresh and Market Match use. This year through October, Petaluma Bounty and Farmers’ Market L.I.F.E. have distributed $101,604 in Market Match dollars in nearly 7,000 customer transactions, on track to end the year with more than 20-percent growth since 2020.State legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to the need by increasing funding for nutrition programs. The legislature included $20 million for the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) in the state budget for the next two years, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of low-income Californians will continue to receive Market Match, a program administered by the Ecology Center (under the California Department of Food & Agriculture), with which
Petaluma Bounty and Farmers’ Market L.I.F.E. partner. The program not only helps low-income shoppers include more fruits and vegetables in their diet but also directs federal SNAP dollars toward small and mid-sized California farms.
In addition, thanks to the efforts of the Ecology Center and the Covid Relief & Response grant it received, Market Match partners at the $10 incentive maximum level were able to increase the maximum to $15 per customer effective September 2021 while funds last. CalFresh benefits also saw a historic increase on October 1, 2021, rising 22% compared to pre-pandemic levels. For a family of four receiving the maximum benefit, the difference is an extra $155 per month. When compared to benefit amounts that include temporary pandemic relief, their monthly allotment starting in October will be about $53 more.
About Petaluma Bounty
Petaluma Bounty’s mission is healthy food for everyone through collaboration, education, and promoting self-reliance. Our programs are designed to grow a thriving local food system where consumers make informed decisions; farmers make a decent living while prioritizing ecological stewardship of the land; and all people – regardless of income – have access to healthy food. To learn more, go to www.petalumabounty.org.
Participating farmers’ markets
- Petaluma East Side Farmers’ Market
- Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., year-round.
- 320 N McDowell Blvd. Petaluma, CA 94954
- Website: http://ilovefarmersmarkets.org/farmers-markets.html
- Santa Rosa Community Farmers’ Market at Farmers Lane
- Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. / Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., year-round.
- 1501 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95405
- Website: http://ilovefarmersmarkets.org/farmers-markets.html
- Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers’ Market at Luther Burbank
- Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., year-round.
- Luther Burbank Center for the Arts 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
- Website: https://thesantarosafarmersmarket.com/
- Sebastopol Farmers’ Market
- Sundays 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., year round.
- Sebastopol Plaza on Weeks Way, downtown Sebastopol
- Website: https://sebastopolfarmmarket.org/
- Healdsburg Farmers’ Market Farmers’ Market
- Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct. 26, 2021, for the season.
- Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to noon., through Dec. 18, 2021, for the season.
- West Plaza Parking Lot (one block off the Plaza)
- Website: https://www.healdsburgfarmersmarket.org/
For more information, email Masako Watanabe, Petaluma Bounty Nutrition Incentive and Communications Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org