Healthy Rialto doles out Farmer Bucks to residents

IECN photo Marina Rojas: Velma Zenon picking out fresh produce with her Farmers Bucks.
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IECN photo Marina Rojas: Rialto Deputy City Clerk Maria Rodriguez and City Clerk Office Specialist Cristian Gutierrez in front of the sponsor board during Healthy Rialto program last Wednesday, Dec. 13.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13 the Healthy Rialto program provided about 200 free food coupon booklets to residents attending the weekly Rialto Certified Farmers Market.  According to City Clerk Office Specialist Cristian Gutierrez, booklets were courtesy of generous sponsors throughout Rialto.

“This program was created by City Clerk Barbara McGee in 2007,” explained Gutierrez, “and each year (usually very close to the holidays) we are able to give out a special treat to the people in Rialto because of those who personally donate towards the Farmer Bucks distribution.  The City of Rialto and its sponsors are proud to provide this service to our residents. Not only does it help financially, it encourages a healthy-eating lifestyle.”   

Each booklet contained 20 coupons worth $1 each, and they were spendable at the Rialto Certified Farmers Market that day.  The coupons could be used at any of the vendor booths at the market.  A line queued up early in front of the City Clerk’s tables to take advantage of this giveaway. 

Deputy City Clerk Maria Rodriguez verified everyone’s residency, and as she ushered them to the tables, volunteers Sarah Ramey, Betty Luvert and Paul Verdugo rechecked the ID cards and handed out the bright yellow booklets to each family.  

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Verdugo, a current commissioner on the Historical Preservation Commission, has volunteered at the City Clerk’s booth for about a year.  He said he really enjoys working at the Farmers Market each Wednesday and added, “For me, this is way of giving back,” as he smiled and greeted the people coming to his table.  

Farmer Bucks recipient Brenda Bristow said she had heard about the Farmers Bucks giveaway by word of mouth and had spent the morning calling friends to make sure they were able to come out to receive the coupon booklets too.  

For Johanna Ortiz, this was a weekly visit to the Farmers Market that is part of her family routine now.  She had seen signs announcing the Farmers Bucks giveaway a few weeks prior and was excited to receive the $20 help for her family’s groceries.  “This is my second year to come to the Farmers Bucks giveaway,” Ortiz said, “It’s really important to me, it helps me provide my kids with the best organic foods I can, which means good health to all of us; this is a great resource for Rialto families.”  She and son Edward Balderama, 2 years old, were spending their Farmers Bucks for fresh produce at the vendor booths. 

This was the second year at the Farmers Bucks giveaway for Velma Zenon, too.  She had spotted the date on the internet and made sure she was early in line to get her booklet.  

For Liz Fuentes and her family, it was the first year participating in the giveaway, and she was happy to pick up some farm fresh eggs to take home.  

The volunteers were taking contact information to notify residents of the next Farmers Bucks giveaway opportunity.  Rialto residents can find out more information about this and other resource programs for their families at the Healthy Rialto Facebook page, or contact the City Clerk’s office directly at 909-820-2519 or

IECN photo Marina Rojas: Brenda Bristow receives her Farmers Bucks booklet from Paul Verdugo.

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