Local Food Policy & Health: State Policies Supporting /SNAP in Farmers Markets - The Development of a California Assembly Bill
The Development of a California Assembly Bill Making federal food assistance (SNAP) benefits universally accepted as a legitimate form of payment in farmers’ markets.• Explain AB 537 and what it means.• Touch on evolution of the bill, beginning as a local issue in the Salinas Valley, Monterey County.• Coalition building with Assemblymember Juan Arambula from Fresno, and other organizations that support farmers’ markets, social justice, public health, etc. Partnership with Martha Guzman and Jennifer Hernandez.• Outcome of the bill was different than we had anticipated. Original version was more vigorous in requiring every market in CA to accept EBT by year 2012.• The shifted outcome is partially a result of bringing the debate to a public forum that resulted in greater buy-in as well as compromise. Having a healthy debate over difference of opinions can turn the process into one that is positive and unifying rather than controlling or exclusionary. As a result of the compromising that occured, the one-time opponents became advocates of the bill and testified their support in public.• Another outcome of policy-making is the capacity-building among participants that get involved in the political process so that knowledge and experience in policy-making is passed on by mentors and new leaders emerge.• Although the outcome was not as vigorous as planned, the bill has put the issue on the radar of policy-makers and markets alike → It gave markets an extra push to set up the system in their markets. After the bill passed, several markets in California decided to implement EBT.• Today all markets in Salinas accept EBT as well. There are now 11 markets in Monterey County accepting EBT as opposed to 6 prior.