My first time writing for this fine publication.
It’s a sunny late-September morning at the Santa Rosa Community Farmers’ Market and Sam Pratt, thin and brown-haired in a green T-shirt, approaches the information booth with reusable grocery bags in hand. He’s greeted with a smile by Jim Fenton, the market manager, who swipes Pratt’s electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card through a small machine similar to those used for credit cards.
Today, Pratt, who depends on CalFresh benefits to buy his monthly groceries, will use $20 of his monthly allotment to purchase food items from local vendors at the farmers’ market. But that’s not all. Thanks to Market Match, a statewide healthy food incentive program, he’ll receive another $20 in tokens for additional fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes the problem is the solution. Marv Zauderer, the founder of ExtraFood.org, arrived at this conclusion as he thought hard about how to solve two pressing issues in Marin County, where he makes his home. First, he asked himself, why do 40,000 Marin residents struggle with hunger in a community so seemingly abundant it has been ranked as the healthiest county in California? And, second, how is it that food waste makes up 30% of the waste stream in Marin, millions of pounds per year?