PROMO Food - Vegetables Basket Cooking at Home - Pixabay - skeeze

Groups plead with California legislators to save Market Match program

© Pixabay - skeeze
Suzanne Potter

Click play to listen to this article.

Audio file

(California News Service) California's program helping low-income families buy fresh fruit and vegetables is on the chopping block and health care advocates are asking legislators to save the Market Match program.

Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting most of the program's $35 million budget to help close the state's budget shortfall.

PROMO Map - California Road Sign Map State - iStock - gguy44

© iStock - gguy44

Sophia Vaccaro, a participant in Market Match from Echo Park, said she depends on Market Match in more ways than one.

"It helps people being able to stretch their budget further," Vaccaro explained. "Then, I think it helps the community, in that it creates a sense of camaraderie at the farmers' market and makes people more invested in the community itself."

The program matches every dollar CalFresh customers spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market up to between $10 and $20 per day. It is active at 294 sites across the state and is partially paid for through federal matching funds.

Dr. John Maa, surgeon at Marin Health Medical Center and board member of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the American Heart Association, said Market Match promotes healthy eating and boosts the local farm economy.

"An improved diet really will have long-term meaningful impacts on health, and also reduce health care costs," Maa explained. "It really helps to sustain the growers and the merchants. I guess it's a win-win-win."

Siu Han Cheung, outreach coordinator for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation and board member of the Heart of the City Farmers' Market, argued the program is vital to residents across the state.

"If the Market Match will be cut, that is terrible," Cheung stressed. "That means they have less money to buy their food. So, Market Match is very important for the low-income families and the seniors."

Legislators and the governor are working toward the May budget revisions, and must pass a balanced budget by June 15.