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Market Match / CNIP Overview

Background:

In his January 2024 budget proposal, Governor Newsom proposed cutting $33.2 million from the three-year $35 million California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) budget under the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The massive scale of this cut will destroy Market Match, a program funded by CNIP that draws down federal matching funds to California, supports California farmers, and has helped tens of thousands of Californians afford healthy food, especially during the pandemic and the period of inflation we have endured.
 

CNIP is a vital safety net program:

  • Market Match, which is funded by CNIP, is a critical nutrition safety net program for Californians who depend on CalFresh/EBT to feed their families. CalFresh customers who shop at participating farmers’ markets and farm stands are able receive a match up to a daily maximum ($10-$20) that can be spent on California-grown fruits and vegetables. For example, a customer who uses $15 of their CalFresh/EBT benefits for groceries at a farmers’ market will receive an additional $15 in Market Match to be spent on fresh produce at the market.
  • By helping food-insecure Californians to afford more groceries and incentivizing the purchase of fruits and vegetables, Market Match promotes public health, healthy child development, and lowers state medical costs.
  • Market Match sustains California’s rural farming communities. Because Market Match can only be spent on California-grown produce and incentivizes spending EBT benefits at farmers’ markets, the program directly benefits the state’s local farms. Customers buy their groceries from local farms and producers instead of imported produce sold at national chains.
  • The revenue generated by Market Match stimulates California’s local economies as small farms create jobs and spend a large portion of their income locally. National discount chains and produce importers, by contrast, extract wealth from California communities and transfer it to shareholders elsewhere.
  • CNIP helps hungry California families to fight the effects inflation and national cuts to EBT by expanding their healthy food budget.
  • Market Match has been operating since 2009 and has been funded by CNIP since 2017.

 

Killing CNIP will leave millions of federal dollars on the table

  • CNIP is a matching program with the federal government. In 2022, CNIP brought in $12.5 million in federal funding to feed hungry Californians and support local farmers.
  • Since 2017, CNIP has brought in over $30 million of federal funding to match the state investment.
  • Losing CNIP means forfeiting the largest federal match for any U.S. fruit and vegetable incentive program. California has always received the largest federal grant for Market Match, because of the state’s CNIP funding.

 

A time-tested solution that is not a stop and start program:

The success of Market Match and CNIP is the result of 15+ years of work to build infrastructure for California nutrition incentives. This work has involved the statewide collaboration of grassroots groups, non-profit organizations, small farms, farmers’ markets, state agencies, legislators, and the governor.

Over 15 years, Market Match has expanded from 14 farmers markets to an extensive network of 293 farm-direct sales sites. All of this work would be lost if the proposed budget cuts are enacted. A sudden disruption due to budget cuts would have a devastating effect on food security for thousands of low-income households and the financial sustainability of California’s small and midsize farms.

  • In 2009, Market Match was first piloted and launched on a small scale at 14 market (15 years ago).
  • In 2015, the California Nutrition Incentive Program was signed into law through Assembly Bill 1321 (9 years ago).
  • In 2016, state funding was provisionally provided through a one-time allocation in the Budget Act of 2016, contingent upon receipt of federal matching funds (8 years ago).
  • In 2017, CDFA was awarded $3.9 million in federal matching funds through the FINI grant program, allowing CNIP to start operations (7 years ago) and greatly expanding the Market Match program beyond its pilot phase.
  • From 2017 to 2022, the State of California allocated $35 million to CNIP. This funding drew down $30 million in matching funds from the federal budget (FINI and GusNIP).
Bipartisan Support for Healthy Food Incentives:

Providing incentives to low-income households to purchase healthy locally-grown food has always enjoyed uniquely widespread bipartisan support. Market Match and CNIP deliver so many benefits that they bridge common gaps:

  • Food Insecurity and Farm Support – this one program simultaneously feeds hungry California families and provides critical revenue for small and midsize California farms.
  • Urban and Rural Communities – certified farmers’ markets directly serve communities in both cities and rural towns. While more farmers’ market customers live in more highly-populated urban areas, the benefits and incentives they spend at farmers’ markets tend to flow to rural California communities where most participating farms operate.
  • Public and Economic Health – incentivizing the purchase and consumption of California-grown fruits and vegetables not only improves nutrition and prevents diet-related health problems, it also directs federal and state nutrition dollars directly into the pockets of California growers instead of national corporations and international exporters.

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