Healthy Food Incentives at the
San Francisco Alemany Farmers’ Market
Healthy incentive programs provide a financial stimulus that increases the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables among low-income communities. For example, if a Cal-Fresh recipient spends $10 at a farmers’ market, they will receive an additional $10 to purchase fruits and vegetables. Several models exist: dollar-for-dollar matching, vouchers, coupons, and prescription programs. These programs are proven to reduce hunger, improve health outcomes for low-income communities, and directly support local agriculture.
Since 2009, we have administered Alemany Farmers’ Market’s incentive program, now called Market Match. In 2019, the San Francisco Public Health Foundation awarded A Better Course with a two-year Healthy Food Purchasing Supplement grant. Further, the Ecology Center has continued to support the program with funding from California’s Nutrition Incentive Program, which is made possible through a mix of public-private funding.
Place matters. Alemany is uniquely located to meet a significant unmet nutritional need of the surrounding neighborhoods. Alemany was the first farmers’ market in California and was founded in San Francisco on August 12, 1943. Over the years, Alemany has continuously supported small family farmers of California. Alemany is lucky to have farming families who have been selling at the market for two or even three generations. This down-home moniker speaks to Alemany’s affordable prices and bustling community atmosphere. Still, most of all, to its long history in the city and the consistent public support it has enjoyed.
Alemany was one of the first farmers’ markets to accept the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. In California, the program is called CalFresh. Alemany’s first incentive program, now called Market Match, was piloted in 2009. The program was launched in partnership with A Better Course, the San Francisco Real Estate Department (who manages the market), the San Francisco Human Service Agency, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and private donors, St. Clemons Church. Although the funding sources and names have changed, the program has operated continuously since 2009 (with a brief pause in 2015). In 2014, the Farm Bill funded a federal program, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, which provides competitive grants to public and non-profit organizations. A Better Course is now part of the California Market Match Consortium, managed by the Ecology Center, with 290 markets offering Market Match programs statewide.
Being able to eat new foods has completely changed the way my family and I live our lives.
Market Match Participant