Chad Gardner

A generous donation from local restaurateur and philanthropist, Chef Chad Gardner, will help CalFresh dollars go farther at the Certified Farmers’ Markets of the Coachella Valley (CFMCV) – right when it’s needed most. Operated by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization The Palm Springs Cultural Center, the Certified Farmers’ Markets of the Coachella Valley are the only mission-driven farmers markets in the local area, with locations in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and La Quinta. 

Not only can customers use their EBT card at these farmers markets, the CFMCV locations also participate in Market Match, California’s largest nutrition incentive program. Market Match provides a dollar for dollar match of shoppers’ nutrition benefits at participating farmers’ markets, allowing them to purchase even more healthy fruits and vegetables. So if a customer spends $15 of their CalFresh benefits at the farmers market, they are given an extra $15 to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, CalFresh enrollment has grown exponentially while the popularity of farmers markets continues to climb. As a result, outlets offering Market Match across the state have seen a significant increase in participation.

When asked about the program, CFMCV customer Johanna Roberts said “Market Match has allowed me to keep my fridge stocked with healthy, fresh foods while keeping within my budget. Going to the CFMCV is an integral part of my life, so being able to match and bring home extra fruits and veggies just makes it even better!”

The increase in participation has placed a financial strain on the program, and the Certified Farmers’ Markets of the Coachella Valley was obligated to reduce the daily maximum matching amount from $15/$15 down to $10/$10. However, as soon as Chef Chad Gardner learned about the funding gap he personally contributed the entire $5,000 needed to preserve the $15/$15 match through the end of the year. 

Serving Diners and the Community Alike

Chad Gardner is the Chef and Creative Director of the Gardner Hospitality Group, a collection of culinary ventures based in the Palm Springs area, including Roly China Fusion, 533 Viet Fusion, Willie’s, 1501 Uptown Gastropub, Dash and A Handful Catering, and the highly anticipated Sol y Sombra Restaurant at The Paloma Resort. Deeply connected to Palm Springs and the desert community, Chef Gardner is personally committed to helping both local businesses and the region’s underserved citizens thrive. 

“I’ve made it my business over the years to enrich our community through restaurants and events that are welcoming and joyful. It’s a pleasure to extend that same spirit of hospitality and excitement about quality food to the tables of families who need it the most, by supporting Certified Farmers’ Markets of the Coachella Valley.” said Chef Gardner. 

Helping Local Family Farms

Market Match not only puts the freshest and most nutritious produce available in the valley directly on the table of local families who need it most, it also provides a much-needed boost in revenue for small family farms. Chef Gardner’s support for local farmers has long been appreciated by the CFMCV. As Market Manager Megan Goehring expressed, “We’ve watched with pleasure as Chef Chad’s desert businesses blossomed. He has been a steady CFMCV supporter since we introduced him to Jones Girl Farm tomatoes, back in the early Dash and a Handful days. He’s a true culinary professional who understands the desire to make sure everyone can access high quality fresh food.” 

The Certified Farmers’ Markets are the Coachella Valley’s *Original* State and County Certified Farmers’ Markets. “Certified” means all the produce from participating farms at the markets has been grown at California farms which have been registered and inspected by their county Agriculture Departments. In addition, almost all the CFMCV farms are located within a 100 mile radius of the Markets (thus reducing the carbon footprint), and many products sold were grown using organic principles. The CFMCV are also GMO-free and sustainably-focused Markets.

The Certified Farmers Markets are sponsored by the Palm Springs Cultural Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.

Market Match is a farm-direct based nutrition incentive program Led by the Ecology Center, based in Berkeley, and funded through the USDA Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program and California Nutrition Incentive Program. The Market Match program provides a dollar for dollar match, up to a daily maximum, on purchases made at the farmers market with CalFresh  (known as SNAP on a federal level) benefits, at nearly 250 locations across 38 California counties.