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Above: The Food Stamps Matching Program has attracted dozens of new shoppers to participating farmers’ markets. The Ukiah market alone has seen an increase of $21,000 in revenue in the two years since the program began.

The Human Race: A Fundraiser By and For the Community

Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Saturday, May 4, runners and walkers from all over Mendocino and Lake counties gathered at Alex Thomas Plaza in Ukiah to participate in the Human Race. The race is held in cities and towns across the nation every year, with each community picking the date and length of its race, usually a 3, 5, or 10k walk or run.

No matter the town, the purpose is the same: to raise funds for local causes. Anyone may form a team, and each team chooses a local organization to support. Team members then fundraise for that organization, getting sponsors for their participation in the race. In addition to fundraising, the Human Race raises awareness and interest in local organizations that thrive with the community’s support.

The Human Race began in Mendocino county in 2006.  Between 2006 and 2012, community teams raised over $120,000 for local nonprofits, schools, churches, and other community organizations. This year there are more than 30 teams registered for the 5k Mendocino Human Race, with fundraising efforts benefitting everything from fire stations to foster care programs to the arts.

North Coast Opportunities was at the helm of several teams, including the Farmers’ Market Food Stamp Match Program. Through this program, recipients of SNAP or CalFresh EBT (food stamps) get up to $15 of their funds matched at the Ukiah and Willits farmers’ markets, for a total spending power of $30. Other farmers markets in the area match funds when possible, including Laytonville and Fort Bragg.

According to Ukiah Farmers’ Market Manager Scott Cratty, “One of the most exciting things about the match program is that it attracts people who did not know they could use their EBT to get fresh, local produce.”

The food stamp match program is a win for everyone. Hungry individuals and families double their food stamps and get access to healthy food; farmers earn income to support themselves and their farms; and the community at large benefits from an injection of federal funds into the local economy. Since the match program started in 2011, the number of EBT dollars spent at the Ukiah farmers’ market alone has increased dramatically, from about $3,000 in 2010 to nearly $24,000 in 2012.

“Many participants have told us that the boost from the matching funds is the only way they can provide fresh food to their families at the end of the month,” says Cratty. “Plus, getting a share of EBT funds to our small farms and ranches helps make them economically viable.”

The match program’s Human Race team comprised a wide swath of the community, including NCO and Hillside Health staff, farmers and other market vendors, UHS Leadership students, and teen peer educators in the BEANS (Better Eating, Activity and Nutrition for Students) program.

The Human Race is about coming together as a community to support the organizations that make Mendocino a great place to live. To learn more, visit http://mendohumanrace.com/.

Program(s) Involved: Community Wellness Projects