Written by Anika Marino, Content Management Intern

What is CalFresh?

CalFresh is the federally mandated food assistance program in the state of California. There are seven branches of CalFresh: Food, Healthy Living, Employment and Training, Disaster Response, Restaurant Meals, Food Assistance, and Emergency Food Programs. CalFresh Food focuses on outreach, Healthy Living focuses on nutrition education, Employment and Training offers employment services, and Disaster Response helps meet nutritional needs after a disaster such as an earthquake or wildfire.

CalFresh aims to make nutritional food more affordable, and one of the ways they aim to do so is by providing services at farmers’ markets.

How to use CalFresh at a Farmers’ Market

Convert EBT to “scrip” that are in intervals of $0.50 and $1, which then are used to buy produce at the farmers’ market. The form of scrip is unique to each market, but usually are paper or plastic tokens. At the end of the day farmers trade in scrip for reimbursement. 

It is important to note that in California in 2022-2023, the average allotment per person on EBT is $281 a month, and farmers’ markets can be expensive. Fresh fruit and vegetables are generally a lot more expensive than packaged and processed foods, and so are more difficult to purchase on a regular basis. 

Understanding the difference between Farmers’ Markets and Grocery Stores

In terms of price, Farmers’ Markets are generally more expensive than grocery stores, and are also held at specific times during the week. If a person is only available at a specific time during the week, such as in the evenings on weekdays, it is entirely possible that their only option is to go to a grocery store.

Farmers’ Markets support local farmers, which supports the local community and economy. They also can provide insight into where your food is coming from, and will know about the level of quality you will be getting.



Farmers’ Markets, Farmers, and EBT — California Government

Grocery Store Produce vs. Farmers Markets: What’s the Difference? — Clean Eating


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