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Market Match Program : Making Healthy Food Affordable

Market Match Program : Making Healthy Food Affordable

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Hunger Action Los Angeles

Market Match provides bonus dollars to low income communities for the purchase of fresh produce from certified LA County Farmers Markets.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Hunger Action LA fights hunger and promotes healthy eating through advocacy, education and direct service.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside
  • Huntington Park

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Market Match makes fresh food affordable by doubling the purchasing power of individuals and families on government administered voucher or cash aid programs –CalFresh /Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/ Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)/Social Security and Women, Infants & Children (WIC)– at participating farmers’ markets. Eligible individuals receive $1 bonus coupons to match up to $10 of their own money or benefits. For example, an individual on SSI can exchange $10 cash for 20 Market Match vouchers, enabling them to purchase $20 worth of produce. Vouchers can only be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables on the same day recipients receive it.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Hunger Action Los Angeles will complete the following activities to expand Market Match throughout more portions of Los Angeles County:

  1. Expanding Market Match to 8 additional markets, with 4 located in areas Hunger Action Los Angeles does not currently serve, especially the San Fernando Valley
  2. Training current market operators; recruiting volunteers; continuing administration of program at 18 markets; conducting meetings to coordinate promotion of Market Match activities with current and future Market Match partners;
  3. Creating specific outreach materials for seniors, families, and persons with disabilities

How will your idea/project help make LA the healthiest place to LIVE today? In 2050?

Market Match makes Los Angeles a better place to live by producing the following benefits:

  1. Reduces hunger as vulnerable individuals and families acquire additional resources to obtain more food.
  2. Improves health as Market Match coupons can only be used on healthy items such as fresh apples, asparagus, beets and broccoli, rather than prepared foods that may be high in fat, salt and sugar.
  3. Builds community by facilitating interaction between people in an open community space.
  4. Stimulates the local economy, as participating local farmers gain revenue generated by increased sales at the farmers’ market, rather than the money being sent out of state through the purchase of non-Californian produce.
  5. Expands the local sustainable agriculture sector, improving the environment in the process.
  6. Creates connections with other nonprofit organizations working on similar issues, developing a network of readily available resources that participants can conveniently access.

Whom will your project benefit?

The project specifically benefits the following populations: Families with children aged 5 and under: Seniors: Persons with physical or mental disabilities: Families and individuals using the CalFresh (“food stamp”) program: and persons with diabetes receiving Medi-Cal, who have been advised to adjust their diet to include more vegetables.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Currently participating partners include The Ecology Center, which is coordinating several Market Match programs statewide: SEE-LA, who operate 7 farmers markets in Los Angeles and also administer the program: and our partner farmers market organizations who host the program at their markets, including: Certified Farmers Market Management (Gardena and Adams/Vermont): Harbor Area Farmers Markets (Huntington Park and Long Beach): The Greener Good (2 other Long Beach Markets): Model Neighborhood Program (La Cienega and Kaiser South Bay markets): VELA (East LA and Valinda markets): Inland Valley Hope Partners (Pomona), Sprouts of Promise (Monterey Park), Thai CDC (East Hollywood), Altadena Farmers Market, City of Compton, City of Santa Monica, and Mar Vista Farmers Market. We also train volunteers to help with the program including many obtained through partnership with Cal State LA, Cal State Northridge, and Cal Poly Pomona. Partners in outreach to let low income people know about the program include Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC Program, Project Angel Food, and SOVA Jewish Food Pantry Market

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Live” metrics?

  • Access to healthy food
  • Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
  • Obesity rates

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Our project increases access to healthier foods through expanding the amount of money people can spend on local fresh produce within their neighborhoods.

Through Market Match, households saves money by realizing savings in their food budgets and enable those saving to be place elsewhere.

Obesity rates fall due to a larger percentage of government benefits received being shifted from the purchase of unhealthy foods to the purchase of healthier produce.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We plan to measure success in three ways: Customer surveys: Are people using the program? Are new customers coming to the farmers market as a result? Are new customers becoming regular customers at the market? Do people continue to purchase more fruits and vegetables even if the incentive match is not available? Have people improved their diets as a result of the program? Farmer surveys: Are farmers selling at markets experiencing higher income as a result of the program? Due to the income are they able to grow more food, hire more labor, or make needed improvements that further increase the productivity of their farm? Third evaluation: Objective statistics—do they show increased sales at the farmers markets, increased participation by low income persons, increased usage of CalFresh by people knowing they can get additional bonus dollars for using the program.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. Contrary to perception, persons in low income areas are aware of what healthy food is and would like to consumer more but are either too far away or do not have enough money to purchase the food

  2. Programs such as Market Match are not an unsustainable “giveaway” program, as they require persons to make a matching purchase from their own resources; people are willing to make this effort in order to maximize what they can obtain

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We can implement the project within the next twelve months because we have already been working on and developing Market Match for four years. We have leveraged funding from other entities including First 5 LA for families with children 5 and under, LA Care for participants with diabetes, Archstone Foundation for seniors’ benefits, and Kaiser Permanente Foundation for logistics and infrastructure. Additional funding for benefits will enable us to add the 4 new markets, especially reaching the San Fernando Valley which is currently not served by our program.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The first major barrier is actually having insufficient funding due to the outreach. Our strategy is to use the program’s success to attract more funding by demonstrating objective health outcome results from a limited implementation of the program, and how those results would be improved by a more extensive implementation of the program. If we show good health outcomes at a program serving 18 markets in the county, we can demonstrate that the county would benefit by extension of the program to 22 markets (and further, thereafter.)

The second barrier is that farmers markets are often not convenient for low income working people due to the limited days and hours of the markets. We would explore solutions that would accommodate people who would not be able to arrive at markets during their hours of operations, such as assembling bags of produce for distribution at more convenient times for them.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research