As the country waits for the Farm Bill to pass, and funding for food stamps remains in limbo, the Ecology Center is launching a tool that allows Californians on food assistance to easily find the healthiest, affordable food from a farmers’ market near them. The Farmers’ Market Finder displays all farmers’ markets that accept CalFresh (California’s form of food stamps), as well as markets that offer additional benefits, like Women Infants and Children (WIC) and Market Match. “Eating healthy is easier when you and your family have access to and information about fresh, affordable choices,” says Carle Brinkman, Program Manager.
The Farmers’ Market Finder (FMFinder.org) is both a website and a mobile site powered by Google Maps API. It contains information on the nearly 800 farmers’ markets across California. Piloted in Los Angeles in the fall of 2013 through a partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services, the Finder was used over 3,500 times in a five-month period. Now users across the state can enter their location on an interactive map and view the nearest farmers’ markets. Finder users can filter the search results for different days of the week or the different types of food assistance benefits accepted at each market, such as CalFresh, WIC, and Market Match.
With one in seven Americans receiving food assistance, farmers’ markets have become important partners in addressing food insecurity in their communities. USDA has recognized that, leading a nationwide movement to link farmers’ markets to food assistance recipients. Here in California, the Ecology Center in partnership with CDSS has equipped about half of all farmers’ markets to accept CalFresh. In addition, nearly 140 farmers’ markets in the state now offer Market Match. Developed by Roots of Change and now administered by the Ecology Center, Market Match provides matching funds to customers who spend their CalFresh benefits at the farmers’ market, so that they can buy even more fruits and vegetables. Market Match directs a portion of the seven billion CalFresh dollars to the small-scale farmers that sell at California’s farmers’ markets.
FMFinder.org is an easy way for more Californians to participate in the health and economic benefits of California’s farmers’ markets. Find the farmers’ market near you, and you’ll find fresh, healthy and affordable food. Visit FMFinder.org today.