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How to Double Your CalFresh Benefits Easily

How to Double Your CalFresh Benefits Easily

There are several programs that can help you double your CalFresh benefits! The program that you use will depend on where you live, since each one covers a unique service area. They all have their own rules and eligibility requirements too, but we’ll break all that down in this article for you.

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Fruit & Vegetable Pilot Project

California Department of Social Services has introduced a Fruit & Vegetable EBT Pilot Project that doubles your food benefits when you purchase fresh, California-grown fruits and vegetables! This program can provide an extra $60 per month in food benefits through the dollar-matching program.

This program is being tested at certain farmers markets and retailers. The state intends to prove that the technology works well before deploying it statewide.

The first two participating locations are in Sacramento County:

  • Country Club Plaza Farmers Market
    Butano Drive Parking Lot
    2405 Butano Drive
    Sacramento CA 95825
  • Sunrise Station Farmers Market
    Light Rail Parking Lot
    Sunrise Blvd & Folsom Blvd
    Rancho Cordova CA 95670

Throughout 2023, the program will be expanded to additional retailers in Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Mendocino, Napa, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego, and Santa Clara Counties. There are currently about 95 locations prepared to participate in this program, with more expected to join throughout the year.

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However, you do not have to live in one of those listed counties to participate in this program. The official press release from the California Department of Social Services clearly states that residents of all 50 counties are eligible to participate but you must shop from a participating retailer. Participating retailers will only be located in the listed counties until the program is expanded.

Double Up Food Bucks (CalFresh Only)

The most recognizable program that can double your CalFresh is Double Up Food Bucks. This program is part of a nationwide movement that is helping low income people across America save money and eat healthier food.

Currently, only three counties in California participate in DUFB: Alameda County, Mendocino County, and Santa Clara County.

The participating locations include:

  • Berkeley Student Food Collective (Berkeley, CA)
  • Arteaga’s Alum Rock (San Jose, CA)
  • Arteaga’s Food Center (San Jose & Gilroy)
  • Lucky 7 (McKee Rd in San Jose)
  • Santa Fe Foods (in Newark & San Jose)
  • Harvest Market (Fort Bragg and Mendocino, CA)

The limits for this program depend on which county you are shopping in. For Alameda and Santa Clara County, it appears the limit is $10 per day but I did not find any evidence of a monthly cap.

In Mendocino County, however, there is a $60 per month limit but I did not see a daily limit.

California Nutrition Incentive Program (CalFresh, WIC, SFMNP)

The California Nutrition Incentive Program can help you double your CalFresh, WIC or even Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) benefits get more food for their money. With every dollar that you spend, you’ll get an extra dollar’s worth of free locally grown fruits or vegetables.

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The CNIP program works at participating farmer’s markets, mobile markets, CSA programs, and retailers. The program is paid for using federal funding, state funds, and local partner support including donations and grants.

The CDFA Office gathers these funds and then passes them onto other organizations that coordinate the actual incentives. That has made it a little difficult for me to track down a specific list for you. However, we can break down which organizations serve which areas so that you can reach out to the organization nearest you for a list.

  • Aspire Health Plan hopes to launch a Double Up program in up to six grocery stores within Monterey County.
  • Chico Natural Foods Cooperative is listed as CDFA beneficiary but it is not clear what their incentives are.
  • The Food Trust offers double up programs at corner stores in San Jose, but it is not clear which stores participate or what the limits are.
  • Los Angeles Food Policy Council runs an voucher-based incentive program at certain stores in the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network.
  • Mandela Partners offers nutrition incentives when you shop at their farm stands.

There are certain markets that offer incentives for WIC and SFMNP benefits as well.

  • Center for Healthy Communities provides WIC and Senior FMNP incentives at 10 sites around Butte, Tehama and Shasta counties.
  • City of Rialto has a dollar-matching program for seniors who use their SFMNP benefits at the city’s Certified Farmer’s Market.
  • Hunger Action Los Angeles has a matching program for the nine farmer’s markets in the Los Angeles area.
  • Interfaith Sustainable Food Cooperative offers incentives for WIC and senior SFMNP shoppers at 37 different locations across the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Model Neighborhood Program offers incentives to WIC and Senior SFMNP shoppers at three Los Angeles locations.
  • Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association operates 39 different markets within the San Francisco Bay area, and they offer incentives for WIC and SFMNP shoppers as well.
  • Visalia Farmer’s Market Association has WIC and SFMNP incentives at three markets in Tulare County.

Fresh Approach

Fresh Approach serves the Bay Area with locally grown food, nutrition education and even gardening skills classes. They work with a variety of markets and matching programs to help people in their community get healthier affordable food.

Fresh Checks

Fresh Checks is one program that helps. Fresh Checks give qualifying customers $10 per week (up to $40 per month) when they buy fresh, healthy produce. It’s a dollar-for-dollar match, so you have to spend $10 to get the $10 check, but then you can get $20 in food for just $10.

Although this program is only available at the East Palo Alto Community Farmer’s Market, it can do more than double your CalFresh food benefit. You can also participate in Fresh Checks if ANY of the following are true:

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  • You receive WIC.
  • You receive FMNP or SFMNP checks.
  • You receive SNAP food benefits.
  • You have CalFresh / EBT benefits.
  • You are a patient at Ravenswood Family Health Center.
  • You have a qualifying income that meets the requirements for CalFresh.

If any of these are true for you, then you can participate in Fresh Checks by visiting the information booth at the East Palo Alto Community Farmer’s Market during normal business hours.

VeggieRx Vouchers

VeggieRx vouchers can be redeemed for free fruits and vegetables. You get these by participating in VeggieRx nutrition and cooking classes, which are hosted by Fresh Approach.

The VeggieRx classes are held in various locations around Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Solano. The program takes about 16 weeks to complete but in exchange, you’ll receive vouchers for free produce based on your household size. A family of four will receive more than $400 in vouchers during the 16-week program, which works out to about $100 per month in extra food.

The vouchers can be redeemed at several farmer’s markets, including the Fresh Approach Mobile Farmer’s Market Truck and the East Palo Alto Community Farmer’s Market.

Dollar Matching Programs

The Fresh Approach Mobile Farmer’s Market offers a 50% discount if you want to double your CalFresh EBT (which is the same as SNAP or Food Stamps). You can also use this if you receive WIC, SSI, SSDI, Medi-Cal or if you are a member of your local food pantry. You must provide proof of participation in order to receive that discount. There is a $20 discount limit per day.

East Palo Alto Community Farmer’s Market provides up to $5 in free produce when you shop with your SFMNP checks.

Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative

The Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative provides cash incentives to help low income people purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Their program helps low income families get a 50% discount on their CSA produce box. They also receive $10 in cash incentives per purchase at local farm stands. To participate, you must be enrolled in CalFresh. This program helps about 200 families in the Bay Area each year.

Market Match

Market Match is one of the biggest organizations that can double your CalFresh benefits in California. This organization works with over 250 sites across the state, including a variety of farmer’s markets, CSAs, farm stands and mobile markets.

How you use this program will depend on where you shop. From farm-direct sources like farm stands that only have one seller, you’ll just get a 50% discount on your purchase. For Farmer’s Markets with many different sellers, you’ll usually get tokens or vouchers.

To get the tokens and vouchers, you’ll need to visit the Information Booth at your local participating market. They’ll swipe your EBT card and you’ll tell them how much you want to spend. They’ll give you a token for every dollar of CalFresh benefits you used and those tokens can be used on any SNAP-eligible foods in the market. You’ll also receive an additional $1 token of matched funds that can only be used to purchase locally-grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and even plant starts!

Each participating market can set its own limits. For example, many markets will only provide up to $10 in free produce. However, there are some markets that do not have a maximum limit so you can double as much as you’d like.

For a list of participating markets, use this interactive locator and pay close attention to the Market Match information. It will specify the dates and limits for this program.

¡Más Fresco! More Fresh

You can earn up to $100 per month to buy fresh fruits and vegetables through the ¡Más Fresco! More Fresh program. This program works a little differently than the other programs on this list.

With ¡Más Fresco! More Fresh, you’ll earn either $2 or $4 in rebate dollars for every dollar you spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at a participating Nothgate González Market. You can earn up to $100 per month in rebate dollars through this program! Participating markets can be found in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and San Diego County.

When you enroll in the program, you’ll receive a Northgate González Market Mi Familia card that will track your purchases. This card will be used to earn and redeem your rebates.

Unfortunately, this program has a limit to how many people can participate, so you have to follow their announcements to be notified when enrollment opens.

Village Market Place

The Village Market Place store in Los Angeles offers a 75% discount on all produce purchased with EBT! That’s a huge savings for low income families.

In addition, CalFresh shoppers can receive a 50% discount when they subscribe to the Weekly Produce Bag Program. These subscriptions can be customized to accommodate a Diabetic Friendly diet, Snack-Foods Only (so that you can eat everything on the go) and Original, which includes a mix of seasonal fruits, veggies and herbs.

Yolo County Bonus Bucks

Yolo County residents can double their purchases through the Yolo Bonus Bucks program. This program provides a 50% discount on fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables as long as they meet specific limits on salt, sugar, oil and fat. You can receive up to $30 in discounts every day.

You have get a Bonus Bucks card in order to use this program. This card has been mailed to every SNAP user that lives in Yolo County. You can also request a card by calling the Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency at 855-278-1594. You’ll hand that card to the cashier when you make your purchase in order to get the discount.

Participating stores include:

  • Food 4 Less (Woodland, CA)
  • La Superior (Woodland, CA)
  • Nugget Market (West Sacramento, Woodland and Davis, CA)

Get 100+ More CalFresh Discounts

If you love being able to double your CalFresh benefits, then you’ll also love our list of over 100 CalFresh discounts!