On a brisk Wednesday morning in June, Amber, an EatSF participant, was redeeming her vouchers at the bustling Heart of the City Farmer’s Market. She was enthusiastic to speak to the EatSF staff about her experience using the program.
Amber has been using the EatSF vouchers for over a year. Throughout this time, the vouchers have filled a gap in her food budget and given her the knowledge that she will always have something to fall back on.
Amber described how she always picks up her vouchers on the first of the month in order to use them as soon as possible. Along with others in her supportive housing facility, Amber picks up her vouchers while receiving other benefits on the first of the month, speaking to the convenience of the EatSF program and its ability to work its way seamlessly into the lives of the participants and the distribution sites.
Amber loves the EatSF vouchers because it allows her to “spread out [her] produce so that [she] always has something.” Even if she is running low on money for food or doesn’t have access to free meal programs, having her vouchers gives her the guarantee that her fridge will never be empty.
Furthermore, the program has helped Amber with her health. She notes that she feels better since she has been able to buy more fresh produce. She says that she has more energy and has improved digestion.
EatSF vouchers have also given Amber access to the Farmers Market, something that was financially out of reach for her prior to enrolling in the voucher program. Amber lives around the corner from the Farmers Market, so she is extremely pleased that the vouchers are redeemable there (the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market is one of the most popular vendors among EatSF participants). Prior to enrolling in the program, Amber did not know that shopping for fruits and vegetables that were in season was cheaper and led to higher-quality produce. By shopping at the Farmer’s Market, Amber always has access to food that is in-season and delicious. It also helps her to vary her intake of fruits and vegetables, allowing her to try produce that she wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
“I depend on the program,” Amber says. “Even when I’m out of money, I always have something.” The EatSF program has helped provide Amber with the security of knowing that, even in the most difficult times, her vouchers are a consistent source of food throughout the entire month.