City wants more food stamp usage at farmers markets 

The use of food stamps at the various farmers markets in San Francisco increased by nearly 85 percent in 2009, compared to the previous year, according to the Department of Public Health.

“This success was largely as a result of the efforts of all farmers markets — especially the Civic Center Heart of the City market — and DPH Environmental Health and partners (San Francisco Food Systems, SF Human Service Agency and DPH-Nutrition Services) to increase access to fresh produce for residents qualifying for federal nutrition benefits such as Food Stamps and WIC,” Public Health Department Director Mitch Katz recently said in a report to the Health Commission.

The City is now working to build on the increased usage. The department is partnering with the Alemany Farmers Market and the Fillmore Farmers Market to increase the use of government subsidy at these markets. This effort, which is being paid for with money from the Roots of Change Fund, will provide education, cooking classes and incentives to boost food stamp usage. Those who spend at least $10 in food stamps at these two markers will receive “additional market tokens to purchase more produce.”

The whole point of the effort, Katz says, is “to encourage more San Franciscans who qualify for food stamps to eat healthy, fresh, local produce grown by farmers in Northern California and to continue to expand food stamp use at farmers markets in San Francisco.”

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