FAQ

Get all your questions answered on our Frequently Asked Questions page!

Click Market Operators & Community Partners, Customers, or Funders to see FAQ specific to those groups. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us for more information.

Market Operators and Community Partners

What is Market Match?

Market Match is a program that provides a monetary incentive to customers who spend their CalFresh EBT card benefits (formerly known as food stamps) at the farmers’ market. When a customer spends their CalFresh EBT at the market, they receive EBT scrip, typically in the form of tokens or vouchers to spend on food at the market. At the same time, the customer’s benefit is “matched” and they receive additional Market Match funds, also in the form of tokens or vouchers, to be spent only on fruits and vegetables at the market. For more on the process, see our how it works page.

Who runs Market Match?

Market Match is a highly collaborative program. While the program is housed under the Ecology Center’s roof, each Market Match Consortium partner runs Market Match at their own market or farm-direct site and many community organizations and agencies help to fund and promote the program. Sometimes the Market Match partner is a market operator and sometimes the Market Match partner is a regional, community-based organization that works with the markets in their city, county, or region to offer Market Match.

How would it work at my market and what would I need to do?

First, your market needs to be authorized to accept SNAP, known as CalFresh in California. (We produce an online guide to help with that process). Applying to be a part of the Market Match program is a competitive process (see “Will you fund Market Match at my market?”). If the Ecology Center decides to accept your organization/market as a partner, then our staff will help to train you and your market staff on administering Market Match and provide tracking, reporting, and promotional tools for you to use at your market.

Market Match is offered at the set rate of $1 of Market Match for $1 of CalFresh, up to a set maximum. Your market would be responsible for tracking the amount of Market Match in and out each day and reporting the cumulative totals to the Ecology Center through our monthly required reporting form. You would also be part of the California Market Match Consortium (CMMC), the statewide learning community that offers Market Match at their markets.


What is the California Market Match Consortium and what would it mean to be part of it?

The California Market Match Consortium (CMMC) is the community of practice and braintrust for the Market Match program. Many of the members have been offering Market Match since 2010 or earlier, when the program began. Convened by the Ecology Center, this diverse group of market operators and community based organizations meets regularly by phone, and in person, at least once per year to exchange best practices, discuss program direction, and train and onboard new markets and staff. Being a CMMC member is a unique opportunity to tap a community of markets who have already “created the wheel” so that you don’t have to recreate it with your market’s Market Match program.

What are the requirements to participate in the Market Match program?


Currently, Market Match is only offered at direct marketing outlets only — meaning farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm stands, and mobile farmers’ markets. That way we know the funds affect not only the customer, but the small and mid-sized farmers too! Read more about the benefits of direct marketing here. Whether you are a farmers’ market manager, or a farmer, you must be authorized to accept SNAP/CalFresh/EBT cards.

One of the unique elements of Market Match is that the scrip is good only for fruits and vegetables. This allows us to demonstrate to funders and decision-makers that we are having real impacts on customers’ consumption of healthy foods and the income of small and mid-sized farmers.

If you aren’t a direct marketing outlet, like a farmers’ market, get in touch with us.


What if I want to do something different with my Market Match program?

There are a few program requirements for every farmers’ market that offers Market Match. (See Requirements FAQ) However, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all. For instance, working with the Ecology Center, you might choose to also match Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits in addition to CalFresh benefits. Ecology Center staff can work with your market, organization, or county to tailor Market Match to your community’s needs. Plus, the CMMC is an amazing resource to learn what has worked in other communities like yours across the state!

How will Market Match benefit my market?

Market Match has a variety of positive impacts for participating organizations. Market Match typically increases overall CalFresh EBT sales and creates a new customer base. Current CMMC members reported between a 300-700% increase in their CalFresh EBT sales as a result of the Market Match program. Farmers tend to view the program positively because it adds to their revenues and creates new shoppers.

Why Farmers' Markets?

There are many reasons to focus on direct marketing outlets, most commonly farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets support the regional food system by providing an essential marketplace for farmers and food businesses, especially those that are new or small and do not have the capacity to supply institutional or other markets. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, 75% of all agricultural sales come from just 5% of operations. Supporting farmers’ markets means supporting small and mid-sized farms as opposed to the larger and consolidated farm operations. Produce sold at farmers’ markets is harvested at the peak of freshness and nutrient content, and usually travels fewer miles to reach consumers than produce at grocery stores. Lastly, farmers’ markets and other farm-direct outlets help to decentralize the food supply, a necessary protection from disaster and system shock.

California has over 750 farmers’ markets; over 400 are equipped with the ability to accept SNAP or CalFresh.


Will you fund Market Match at my market?

The Market Match program receives funding from the California Nutrition Incentive Program and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

The Ecology Center announces a Request for Applications for farmers’ market operators and community organizations that are seeking to join the Market Match program each spring. If you’re interested in being notified about an upcoming Request for Applications, please sign up for our newsletter.

For information on how the application process has looked in previous years, click here.


Great, I’m convinced! Where do I sign up?

If you are interested in joining our network and bringing Market Match to your region, association, or market get more information on our New Partner page.

Customers

What is Market Match?

Market Match is an incentive program that doubles your food dollars at participating farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm stands, and mobile markets so you can buy more fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and edible plant starts for growing your own food. Market Match makes fresh produce from small and mid-sized farms in your area more affordable, increasing the accessibility of farmers’ markets across the state.

When you spend your CalFresh benefits at the farmers’ market, your benefit is matched, dollar-for-dollar. This means that for every CalFresh dollar you spend, you get a Market Match dollar to spend on fruits and vegetables. Most markets match up to $10, and some match more, so check with your local market for details. See more details on how it works here.


How do I find a market that offers Market Match incentives?

Use our Farmers’ Market Finder, which is an online, mobile compatible site that allows you to enter your location and find the markets closest to you that accept CalFresh and offer Market Match.

What can I buy with Market Match?

Market Match is good for fresh fruits and vegetables and edible plant starts only. You can still spend your CalFresh on any eligible foods at the market.

How can I help spread the word about Market Match?

Thank you! There are a lot of ways you can get involved with the Market Match program. Ask at your market’s information booth if they need volunteers. Or contact us to provide a testimony or quote.

Funders

What is Market Match?

Market Match is a state-wide healthy food incentive program which matches SNAP or CalFresh purchases.

When people use their federal food benefits at farmers’ markets, Market Match provides matching funds so that they can buy even more fruits and vegetables. For example, a shopper who wishes to spend $10 of CalFresh benefits at the farmers’ markets gets an extra $10 for a total of $20 to spend on fresh produce.

Market Match empowers low-income shoppers to make healthy food choices by overcoming financial barriers. It supports job creation, local economic development, and civic engagement by leveraging the benefits of farmers’ markets for a broader community. Further, Market Match helps stabilize and support rural communities by providing an additional income for small and mid-sized farmers selling at farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile farmers’ markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).


What are the impacts of Market Match?

Click here to see some of the Market Match program’s impacts.

How can I best support Market Match?

Thank you for your interest! The Market Match program is actively seeking partnerships with funders. Take a peek at our downloadable program brief, donate, or contact us for more information.