SAN JOSE, Calif., August 15, 2012 – The Health Trust welcomes the San Jose City Council’s decision Tuesday, August 14, to streamline the process for opening Certified Farmers’ Markets, which will give residents more opportunities to buy healthy, affordable fresh produce.
“Every family in San Jose should be able to put fresh fruits and vegetables on the table,” said Health Trust CEO Frederick Ferrer. “This ordinance is an important step toward reducing obesity and improving the health of our community.”
Under the new ordinance, adopted unanimously:
- Certified Farmers’ Markets with fewer than 16 vendors no longer will need city permits to open. Those permits, which cost $1,400 and can take up to three months to process, make it difficult for markets to open in some areas of the city.
- Permit fees for larger markets will be reduced from $2,000 to $1,400.
- All farmers’ markets will be required to accept food assistance benefits, such as CalFresh (food stamps) or WIC.
- Large and small Certified Farmers’ Markets still will have to comply with state and county health and agricultural regulations.
“While there are lots of markets in some parts of San Jose that sell lovely organic produce, people in low-income neighborhoods are limited to stores that accept food assistance,” Ferrer said. “That’s why it was so important to require farmers’ markets to accept CalFresh and WIC vouchers.”
The farmers’ market ordinance is the result of a collaboration of community and City partners known as the Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose. The Campaign is led by The Health Trust and funded by Santa Clara County through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Council members praised the city planning staff and The Health Trust for their work on the farmers’ market issue. Council Member Nancy Pyle recalled her childhood, when the produce vendor was a welcome visitor on her street. “I feel like we’ve come full circle,” she said.
Encouraging farmers’ markets is just one strategy in The Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose’s plan for increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for all city residents. The Campaign also is working to increase community gardens and is launching Fresh Carts Silicon Valley, a mobile produce vending program.
Speaking before the City Council Tuesday, Ferrer applauded the City’s efforts on farmers’ markets but questioned why it was taking so long to develop policies to encourage community gardens, which was the City’s responsibility under the federal grant. Such policies include integrating community gardens into the planning process for new parks, allowing community gardens on public land and allowing the on-site sale of produce grown in some gardens.
“We are disappointed,” Ferrer said, “but we will continue to work with you so we can meet our September 30 grant deadline.”
Council Members Sam Liccardo and Xavier Campos urged the City’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department to move quickly to implement the changes.
“We need to stop tripping over ourselves,” Campos said. “If something is easy, let’s get it done.”
About the Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose
The Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose’s goal is to increase access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in areas with limited access to healthy food options. Led by The Health Trust and funded through the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, the Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose’s partners include he City of San Jose, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association and Working Partnerships USA. The Campaign for Healthy Food San Jose is made possible with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For information, visit www.healthtrust.org/campaignforhealthyfoodsanjose.
About The Health Trust
The Health Trust is a nonprofit foundation located in Santa Clara County, California, that provides grants, services and advocacy to support its vision of Silicon Valley as the healthiest region in America. The Health Trust’s key initiatives are Healthy Living, Healthy Communities and Healthy Aging. For more information, visit www.healthtrust.org.
For information contact: