State Pilot Project Makes Fruits and Vegetables More Affordable for Low-Income County Residents
Santa Clara County is one of nearly a dozen California counties taking part in the project, which provides financial incentives to CalFresh Food recipients to purchase healthy food
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — Santa Clara County is participating in a pilot program funded by the State of California that provides financial incentives for low-income residents to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project, which officially launched in Santa Clara County this month, refunds CalFresh Food recipients up to $60 a month when they buy fruits and vegetables from participating stores.
The goal of the program is to make it easier for families who use CalFresh Food, the State’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to afford healthy food while also supporting California agriculture. The pilot project is taking place in nearly a dozen counties throughout California.
“Processed food is often cheaper than fruits and vegetables, which can make it hard for people with limited incomes to afford healthful food,” said Daniel Little, Director of the County’s Social Services Agency, which has partnered with the County Department of Public Health to champion the pilot. “The California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project aims to support the health and well-being of residents who are enrolled in CalFresh Food by making nutritious whole foods more affordable.”
Angelica Diaz, Healthy Communities Branch Director at the County's Public Health Department, touted the many health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.
"Healthy foods can lower your risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases," Diaz said. "Building upon years of relationships with the participating stores, this project is another exciting step toward making the healthy choice, the convenient and affordable choice."
There are five Santa Clara County stores participating in the program, called the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project, which is supported in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR, a nonprofit public policy organization.
The local participating stores include:
- Arteaga’s Food Center, 2620 Alum Rock Ave., San José
- Arteaga’s Food Center, 1003 Lincoln Ave., San José
- Arteaga’s Food Center, 204 Willow St., San José
- Arteaga’s Food Center, 6909 Chestnut St., Gilroy
- Santa Fe Foods, 860 S. White Road, San José
The pilot project replaces a similar program called Double Up Food Bucks, which ended in June 2023 after six years of operation. The County has worked on both programs with a coalition of community partners including SPUR, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, Fair Food Network and John Snow Inc.
The County and its partners hope that, if the pilot is successful, it can eventually expand throughout California and include a greater variety of stores.
Here’s how the California Fruit and Vegetable EBT Pilot Project works. When CalFresh Food recipients shop at participating stores, they get up to $60 of the amount they spend on produce refunded to their EBT card per month. The money that’s refunded can be used on any food items that are eligible for purchase with a CalFresh Food EBT card.
The pilot project was established by the state Legislature in 2018. The pilot has received nearly $20 million in state funding so far.
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