Fresh Fund helped community members double their purchase of fresh produce while benefiting local farmers and boosting the local economy.
Fresh Fund was launched in 2008 as a pilot program to test the effectiveness of incentive programs in bolstering sales at farmers markets and increasing the consumption of fresh foods among low income consumers. The City Heights Farmers Market became one of only a few programs nationally to “match” the use of SNAP (food stamps), WIC or Senior Farmers market coupons, or cash from SSI/Disability recipients.
By 2011, the Fresh Fund had grown to serve more than 8,000 residents at 5 farmers markets in San Diego County. Revenue generated at these 5 markets topped $1.6 million, of which approximately $350,000 were incentive dollars furnished by Healthy Works, a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the County of San Diego.
Fresh Fund created equitable access to healthy food options by supporting the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets in San Diego County communities. Once enrolled, participants received $20 in matching funds each month, increasing their ability to purchase fresh produce, while also helping local farmers.
Farmers markets offering Fresh Fund were located in low-income communities facing the greatest food insecurity, with little access to healthy, fresh foods. Participants increased their consumption of fresh produce by receiving extra grocery money each month.
Any county resident enrolled in CalFresh/SNAP, WIC, and/or SSI/SSDI could acquire and redeem Fresh Fund tokens at Fresh Fund markets. Fresh Fund members invested in the health of their families and communities by utilizing access to better foods and supporting local agriculture. Local farmers benefited from the extra income provided by the Fresh Fund program.
Fresh Fund, run by the International Rescue Committee, was about community engagement in our local food environment. The way we grow, distribute, and eat food affects individual and community health, and has a personal, social, and economic impact. The campaign was valuable and relevant to all county residents, as shopping at local farmers markets for locally grown produce helps local farmers and stimulates the local economy.
What you can do: Residents can support and patronize farmers markets in their communities. Join our e-mail list at email@example.com.