Making food dollars go farther for low-income Santa Cruz County Residents

Sponsored by the County of Santa Cruz

By Nicole Zahm
May 4, 2020

Santa Cruz, CA

The Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets (SCCFM) accept CalFresh(EBT), WIC and Senior Nutrition Coupons and have for years. Over the past decade thousands of markets have set up systems to accept these forms of currency in order to increase access to nutritious food for low-income individuals and families. In addition our markets provide CalFresh users a dollar-for-dollar match for their first $10. Ten dollars becomes $20 at all five of our markets, and the Watsonville Market, year round.

The need for access to quality food is greater than ever as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities. For this reason SCCFM is particularly glad to be offering a May Market Match Double-Up Special, generously sponsored by the County of Santa Cruz in honor of CalFresh Awareness Month. In 2020, the fifth year for the May Double-Up Special, the Downtown Santa Cruz, Westside Santa Cruz, Live Oak and Watsonville markets are offering a Double Match to CalFresh/EBT users – providing TWO Market Match tokens for every EBT token up to ten dollars. Ten dollars of EBT becomes $30 at these specific markets in May. The matching tokens are specifically for fresh fruits and vegetables only. In past years EBT and Market Match transactions increased by nearly 100% during the May Double Up, suggesting that this program has a substantial impact.


EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer and is the method for distributing CalFresh benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps and currently known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). At the markets, individuals can locate the information booth where a staff member will process EBT cards and provide tokens to purchase food at the farmers’ markets.

High-quality, whole and organic foods can be a significant cost on a limited budged. We are fortunate to offer the standard Market Match Program at all of our five markets year round (Downtown SC joining this month). This is a statewide project sponsored by Roots of Change and implemented to address economic barriers to healthy food purchasing. The program offers farmers’ market customers with CalFresh (EBT/SNAP) cards a dollar-for-dollar match up to ten dollars. For example, if a CalFresh customer swipes their EBT card for ten dollars of EBT tokens, they receive ten additional dollars in Market Match tokens at no charge. A seven-dollar swipe equals a seven-dollar match. A fifteen-dollar swipe equals a ten-dollar match. These matching dollars can be used to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits only. The goal of this project is to increase access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for low-income residents, helping shoppers stretch their food dollars and incentivizing healthy food options. SCCFM has the highest MM distribution in the region, speaking to the strength of the local program. This program is year round while the MARKET MATCH DOUBLE UP SPECIAL is only offered for the month of May and doubles the value of the match.