There are 4.4 million food stamp recipients in California, and the participants in that program, now known as Cal Fresh are now able to use their benefits at many local farm markets. A new series of federal grants is out to expand those opportunities.
It took some time for the use of electronic CalFresh cards to become easy and widespread in California, says Martin Borque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center in Berkeley. But that use was accelerated by some carefully negotiated measures to hold costs down.
The work of the Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative involves building some new sorts of partnerships, and Executive Director Steve Schwartz is pleased that the USDA recognized the merits of their approach.
The Ecology Center's online Market Match tool finds farm markets near you, and identifies which benefit programs are accepted at each one.