This piece is part 1 of a 2 part series on San Francisco’s Heart of the City farmer’s market.
I lived around the corner from San Francisco’s Heart of the City farmer’s market for five years. Every Wednesday, I stopped at the Phan Family Farm stand, where Mrs. Phan would often ask me when I was getting married. On some shopping trips, I would stop by the baker John’s spot to talk politics and by Roli Roti, where I always lobbied the founder to bring his famous hand-rolled pork tenderloin porchetta sandwiches to the Tenderloin.
Swirling masses of shoppers at the market spanned every race, ethnicity, income level, and age. The market made us all one through the universal experience of food and the ancient civic experience of the great public market. I love the market most of all for this reason.
Years later when I joined the Stupski Foundation as director of food security, I knew Heart of the City was the first place we should turn in our effort to reach Social Security Income (SSI) recipients who were newly eligible for CalFresh—a policy shift that meant more than 24,000 San Franciscans could finally receive CalFresh. Many of the people Stupski wanted to reach already frequented Heart of the City, felt safe there, and had relationships with the farmers and Heart of the City’s staff. After learning about the market’s plans to boost CalFresh enrollment assistance once the new rule went into effect, we initiated a grant so the market could offer SSI recipients on-site assistance to apply for an EBT card.
We recently spent a morning at the market to speak with Heart of the City’s brilliant market director, Kate Creps, one of the most knowledgeable figures in food security with a decade of on-the-ground experience. We were stunned to learn that in just one month, the number of people using their CalFresh benefits at the market doubled, and by December, it nearly tripled. In the next post in this series, I look forward to sharing a conversation with Kate about what has happened at the market since the policy shift went into place.
Heart of the City is a powerful and trusted civic treasure. We are all welcome there. If you don’t already, I encourage you to visit the market to connect, shop, and support our local farmers. If you have the ability to contribute to the vision and extraordinary work that Kate and her team are leading, invest in Heart of the City. Visit our blog next week to read our full interview with Kate about how Heart of the City continues to maximize CalFresh enrollment, maintain affordable access to locally grown food in our community, and support local farmers.