Growing food access in SLO County
Among those managers are Robyn Gable of North County Farmers Market Association, and Jeff Nielsen of Cambria, Morro Bay, Farm Supply and Downtown SLO Farmers Markets, and Linda Larsen of Paso Farm and Craft Market. These managers, with the support of their boards and managers who came before them, have worked to get EBT accepted at their markets, despite the extra administrative requirements.
They (market managers) do this work because they care about it. They are champions of local food access for everyone in the community and they know that, even if offering CalFresh acceptance is not profitable in the first year, it does bring in more customers and more money to the market over time. - Shannon Klisch, UCCE
Ideally, every certified farmers market in the county would allow customers to use their CalFresh card to buy produce. If there was more consistency and access, it would take away some of the confusion and uncertainty that people face when they go to use their CalFresh card. - Shannon Klisch, EBT @ Farmers Markets Work Group Chair
The EBT at Farmers Markets work group also understands that to increase access to fresh food, they would need to assist Farmers Market managers in the EBT program administration. The work group connects managers to state-level support that can assist with applications, getting a point of service machine (in some cases), and technical assistance.
In order to convince more markets to offer EBT, the work group demonstrates the financial benefit to the markets, the farmers, and the community, which is significant. Since 2017, $265k has been infused into our local economy!
With representatives from various agencies in the county, this work group has made serious headway over the past 4 years. Statistics like a 90% increase in Calfresh and Market Match redemption, and 42 client-serving organizations receiving outreach materials, demonstrate just how much impact the group has had on the community, not to mention individual users!
There was this customer who came to the market. They were so down, ‘I haven’t had food for a week, I have been out of money and out of work.’ They came to swipe their card, and had like 350$ in there because of the extra money for EBT (during the pandemic). And they just started crying they were so happy to have that money in there so they could eat. And, it just makes you feel good that you can do what you do. - SLO County Farmers Market manager on being able to accept CalFresh at Farmers Markets during the COVID-19 pandemic