New state program provides California residents up to $100 of free groceries

Josue Torres
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With a new initiative at Northgate Markets in Southern California, families and individuals may earn up to $100 each month to spend on fresh food.

Participants in the “Más Fresco” program will be able to earn up to $100 per month to spend on fruits and vegetables.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or “CalFresh,” is how California implements SNAP, formerly known as “food stamps.”

You must get CalFresh and be at least 18 years old in order to qualify. Rewards are only redeemable at Northgate Market stores in Southern California.

One of two bonuses will be chosen at random for users when they join the free rewards program:

Earn $2 for each $1 spent on acceptable fruits or veggies using CalFresh benefits.
Earn $4 for each $1 spent on acceptable fruits or veggies using CalFresh benefits.

The monthly maximum incentives for both are $100. Continual discounts and promotions on fruits and vegetables are also a part of the program.

After earning reward dollars, the credit can be used to buy additional eligible fresh produce using their EBT card.

The Más Fresco program is a collaboration between Northgate González Market, the US Department of Agriculture, and UC San Diego Health.

It attempts to encourage CalFresh users to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. You may only utilize eligible purchases to gain points.

Fruits and vegetables that qualify include:

Any variety of fruits and vegetables, whole or sliced, fruits and veggies in bags, boxed or bagged salad ingredients, jalapenos, peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, and other spices.

Non-qualifying fruits and vegetables include:

Anything purchased from the deli or salad bar, as well as party trays, fruit baskets, or ornamental produce like garlic on a string, chilies, or printed pumpkins. 

Also nuts or fruits mixed with nuts, kits for salad, vegetables, or fruits that come in bags and with extras like dressing, croutons, cheese, dips, or sauces, veggie jerky, fruits and vegetables containing extra sugar, fat, or oil, and fruits or vegetables with artificial, low-calorie, or no-calorie sweeteners in.

More than 2.6 million households in California will be receiving food stamps or SNAP benefits as of 2022.

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