Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the California Nutrition Incentive Program, also known as CNIP?

A; Created through legislation passed in 2015 (Ting, San Francisco), the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) encourages the purchase and consumption of healthy, California-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts by Californians receiving federal nutrition benefits such as SNAP/CalFresh/EBT and WIC. Housed within the Office of Farm-to-Fork at the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA), the program provides monetary incentives for the purchase of California-grown fruits and vegetables at certified farmers’ markets and small businesses. CNIP provides competitive grant funding to organizations to provide incentives to nutrition benefit shoppers using CalFresh (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), to support program operations and outreach.

Q: What is Market Match? 

A: Market Match is a 15 year old statewide healthy food incentive program funded through a combination of private, federal, and state funds (including CNIP). Market Match doubles customers’ CalFresh (SNAP) nutrition assistance benefits at farmers’ markets and other farm-direct sites. Market Match is distributed by over 60 community-based organizations and farmers’ market operators at over 250 sites across the state. 

Q: How is Market Match/CNIP threatened?

A: The California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), which funds the statewide Market Match Program, has been cut from the Governor’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2024-25.) The draft budget cut $33.2 million from the three-year $35 million California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) budget. That means, without collective action from supporters, Market Match could disappear in 2025. Because of the nature of the program, built through grassroots partnerships, the program would not be able to return in the future from these cuts.

Q: Who are we asking to Save Market Match?

A: We are asking Governor Newsom and the members of California’s Senate and Assembly to #SaveMarketMatch.

California’s budget process is collaborative and builds upon many decisions. It involves a marriage between the priorities of the Governor and the state legislature (through the State Assembly and Senate), with numerous opportunities for feedback from the public. Each January, the Governor provides a draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year and, in the case of this year, Governor Newsom’s draft eliminates funding for the statewide CNIP/Market Match program. 

The Assembly and Senate both start developing drafts of the state budget in January as well, based on state and constituent priorities, which are eventually merged into one document. Later in the process, the legislature and the Governor use their draft budgets to negotiate a single budget document, which is later signed or vetoed by the Governor. This is why we are simultaneously asking the Governor AND state legislators to add CNIP back into their versions of the state budget.

Q: How are federal matching funds involved? 

A: The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) at the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is a nationwide program funded through the federal farm bill that provides competitive grants for nutrition incentive programs. This federal grant program requires a non-federal match (state, local, or private funds). In response to GusNIP, CNIP was specifically designed to act as a non-federal match, bringing critical federal dollars to California for these vital safety-net nutrition incentive programs. In 2022, CNIP brought in $12.5 million in GusNIP federal funding to feed hungry Californians and support local farmers. Since 2017, CNIP has secured 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.

California has been a genuine leader in this space, with many states (such as Texas) now following suit and pursuing the creation of state-funded incentives to draw down GusNIP funding. If we allow CNIP to be cut now, California will forfeit not only its federal matching funds but also its policy leadership in this arena.

Q: What’s the impact of Market Match/CNIP on small farms?

A: In 2023 alone, the Market Match program led to $19.4million in spending with California small and mid-sized farmers at farmers markets and other farm-direct outlets. This is an estimated 16.2 million servings of fruits and vegetables and a $24.3 million economic impact on local communities statewide. 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.


Q: How does Market Match/CNIP stimulate local economies? 

A: 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.


Q: Why is Market Match/CNIP considered a vital safety net program?

A: 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. CNIP helps hungry California families to fight the effects of inflation and national cuts to EBT by expanding their healthy food budget.


Q: How does Market Match/CNIP promote health?

A: Market Match helps food-insecure Californians to afford more groceries and incentivizes the purchase of fruits and vegetables. Market Match promotes public health, healthy child development, and lowers state medical costs.


Q: What’s the timeline of this campaign?

A: This is incredibly urgent. Because of the Governor’s action, the state has already missed the deadline to apply for federal matching funds. That’s why it is urgent for us  to pressure the Governor and the legislature to reinstate the $35 million previously appropriated in last year’s budget. Below, you can see some of the major milestones in the budget process.


[develop into a visual timeline if possible. Here’s a pretty great infographic as a reference, but too complicated for our purposes.]


By January 10 – Governor presents a draft budget

January – mid-May – Legislature (Assembly and Senate) develop their draft budgets, based on the Governor’s draft. The Budget Subcommittees in both the Assembly and Senate are leaders in this process. Budget committees and their subcommittees hold hearings to review the governor’s proposals and make decisions about the draft.

By May 14th – Governor presents the “May Revise”, a revised version of the budget based on feedback from the public, the legislature, and new predictions on the state’s revenue.

Mid May to June – Assembly and Senate finalize their versions of the budget. A legislative conference committee may meet to resolve differences. Legislative leaders and the Governor also meet to resolve differences.

June 15th – Constitutionally mandated deadline for California lawmakers to pass the budget bill.

By July 1 – Governor signs budget bill and fiscal year begins (July 1st.)


Q: What is the CDSS Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot and how is it different?

A: The California Department of Social Services Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot (the Pilot) is a program that similarly incentivizes the purchase of fruits and vegetables by shoppers utilizing CalFresh, but there are a number of significant differences between the Pilot and CNIP. Both programs provide essential benefits to low-income Californians shopping with CalFresh, but CNIP has a specific focus on California-grown and supporting California businesses, especially California farmers selling through farmers’ markets.


The Pilot launched at sites in 2023, offering additional CalFresh benefits to shoppers spending their CalFresh on fruits and vegetables. It launched as a result of legislation passed in 2019 which directed the CDSS to test technology that integrates incentives onto the EBT card using the State’s EBT infrastructure to award the incentives to the customer and have it tracked essentially “on the EBT card.” The Pilot is in its first stages of development, with advocates hoping to expand it. Market Match has been around since 2009, a 15-year-old program, funded through CNIP since 2017. 


Q: I have read that Market Match is helping to address food deserts. How does Market Match do that?


 A: Many of the farmers markets participating in the Market Match program operate in neighborhoods that are so-called “food deserts”. Those farmers markets help to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores or where the stores do not offer a wide range of fresh, affordable, and culturally appropriate produce options. But farmers markets offering Market Match also operate in neighborhoods that have grocery stores and other food purchasing options. We describe Market Match as a “food access” program because it helps families stretch their food dollars while purchasing the freshest and healthiest produce available, regardless of whether or not they live in a food desert neighborhood.


Q: Can we just stop the Program and then start it again when California has more money?


A: Market Match / CNIP is a time-tested solution that is not a stop-and-start kind of 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.


Q: What’s the history of Market Match and CNIP?




  • In 2009, Market Match was first piloted and launched on a small scale at 14 market (15 years ago).
  • In the 2014 Federal Farm Bill the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program was created at USDA. This program was later rebranded as the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP.) The programs allocated federal dollars for nutrition incentive programs.
  • In 2015, the California Nutrition Incentive Program was created 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).


Q: Are these programs partisan?


A: Both the federal GusNIP and state CNIP programs have seen bipartisan support. 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: