Food stamps make farmers’ markets affordable for all

Puente has worked hard to make the point that buying fresh, local food on the coast should be as affordable as it is delicious. This summer, thanks to Puente’s initiative, shoppers in Pescadero and La Honda as well as at both Coastside Farmers’ Markets in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay will be able to sign up for food stamps and use their CalFresh (food stamp) benefits to buy anything in sight – fruit, fish, vegetables, eggs or meat. CalFresh purchases up to $10 will be doubled.

Shoppers at Pescadero Grown! Certified community farmer’s markets in Pescadero and La Honda already have their CalFresh purchases up to $10 doubled. But this year, Puente can announce another first: the La Honda Country Store is now the first market on the South Coast to accept CalFresh, and the only Coastside store to do so between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.

That’s very good news for folks in La Honda who qualify for food stamps and are already struggling to pay for necessities, like gas and food, says Puente Executive Director Kerry Lobel.

“Up until now, people who wanted to use their food stamps to buy a quart of milk or some eggs would have had to schlep to Half Moon Bay. If you have to drive 25 or 50 miles to use your benefit, it’s not a benefit,” she says.

Very often people don’t recognize that Puente plays a role outside the South Coast. The corridor between Pacifica and Pescadero is well-traveled by locals, and now they can stop at any farmer’s market along the way and double their food purchases.

Puente has close ties with Erin Tormey, founder of the Coastside Farmers’ Markets. Puente was able to use its nonprofit tax status and good reputation to get some funding from the Human Services Agency of San Mateo County  to hire someone to enroll people in CalFresh right at the Coastside Farmers’ Markets.

Tormey says she is elated.

“There are dozens of senior citizens in this community who qualify for food stamps but don’t access the program. We have the opportunity to bring people into the program that won’t have to go to Redwood City to sign up,” she says.

That’s not all. Thanks to a grant from the California Farmers’ Market Consortium, qualified shoppers can double their money up to $10 for purchases of fruits, nuts and vegetables. A separate Puente program at the Pescadero and La Honda Farmers’ Markets gives discount “tokens” to shoppers, thanks to a fund built from generous community donations.

For details about Pescadero Grown! Farmers’ Markets and discounts, visit For details about the Coastside Farmers’ Markets, visit

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