Study Finds California Program Boosts Healthy Eating Among CalFresh Recipients

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Success leads to $10 million more in state funding

Assemblymember Phil Ting discusses nutrition incentivesSan Francisco, CA  - A new report, Market Match Impact Report, from Berkeley’s Ecology Center finds that giving CalFresh recipients incentives to buy fresh food at farmers’ markets leads to healthier diets. The program is called Market Match, and it enables low-income shoppers to get twice as much produce than they normally would. For instance, if they spent $10 of their benefits at the farmers’ market, they would get another $10 to spend on fresh produce. After two years, CalFresh recipients reported that:

  • 73% increased the amount of fresh fruits & vegetables they buy each week
  • 71% say their family’s health has improved
  • 67% increased the number of trips to the farmers’ market

Researchers also found that changes in dietary intake, likely from nutrition incentives, were sufficient to result in a 1.7% reduction in Type 2 diabetes cases which, in California, translates into health care savings approaching $469 million a year. “Fresh food fuels a healthy lifestyle. By supporting local farmers, Market Match invests in our community and local economy,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who helped secure state funding for the program as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “Since the boost in funding, Market Match has seen a 453% jump in transactions.”

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Ecology Center a $3.7 million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant to expand the Market Match program. Ting then helped secure $5 million in the state budget for California’s own grants to support programs like Market Match.

Citing the success of these public investments, Ting also announced an additional $10 million in funding from the latest state budget to extend the state grant program. “The Ecology Center is grateful that these funds have been secured for this incredibly popular and effective program because demand for Market Match currently outstrips supply. Now, more farmers’ markets and low-income shoppers will be able to participate,” says Ecology Center Food and Farming Director Carle Brinkman.

For more information about Market Match, please visit: