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State Nutrition Incentives Investment will Create Jobs, Improve Health

June 27, 2016

Oakland, CA (June 27, 2016) — More California grown fruits and vegetables will be found on plates across the state, as Governor Brown today included funding for healthy food incentives in the 2016-2017 state budget. In a farm economy still hurting from drought, this modest $5 million investment is expected to boost farmers’ sales ten times and create nearly 2,000 jobs in rural communities—all while improving the health of local families.

A recent study showed that for every $1 million in produce purchased directly from farmers, 32 jobs are created. With the amount of additional spending unleashed by the nutrition incentive program, the program can expect to generate more than 1,900 more jobs on small farms.
 
“We signed on as co-sponsors to this important initiative for one simple reason: Nutrition incentives work,” said Matthew Marsom, PHI Vice President of Public Policy and Programs. “As a result of this new funding, families will get more healthy food on the table, farmers and small businesses will sell more produce, and agricultural communities will see economic growth. Everybody wins.”
 
The California Nutrition Incentives Act (AB 1321), authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), passed with strong bipartisan support last year, paving the way for shoppers receiving CalFresh benefits to get their purchase price matched dollar for dollar when they buy California-grown fruits and vegetables. AB 1321 created a statewide program to help farmers’ markets, farm stands and corner stores draw down federal grant funding for these healthy food incentives—yet that money can only be accessed if it is matched with state money, which was not included in the budget last year.
 
The funding provided today will enable the state to compete for those federal dollars, particularly rural and isolated communities.
 
Data from California’s pilot nutrition incentive program Market Match have shown that nutrition incentives work. CalFresh expenditures increased up to 700 percent in farmers’ markets where incentives are offered. $5 million in state monies, matched with $5 million in federal funds, should create up to $60 million in additional purchases of healthy food from California farmers.
 
“Those rising sales not only help combat diet-related diseases—they also mean more desperately needed jobs on our farms,” said Michael Dimock, president of PHI’s Roots of Change program.
 
In a state still dealing with a historic drought that has had a multi-million dollar toll on the farm industry, costing it at least 10,000 jobs in the last year alone, those extra jobs can go a long way. Rural counties are also consistently rated the least healthy.
 
“Rural counties like Yuba, Lake and Imperial—those with the highest rates of diabetes—currently have no markets that can provide the dollar for dollar incentive through Market Match,” said Dimock. “This funding will help farmers and markets from these areas and others across the state to kick start economic growth and enable more low-income families to put healthy food on the table.”

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If you are interested in arranging an interview with Michael Dimock, contact Jennifer Scroggins at (510) 285-5512 or jennifer.scroggins@phi.org