Program Links Local Farmers to People Experiencing Food Insecurity

NBC Universal, Inc.

As the coronavirus pandemic wanes in the U.S., food insecurity continues to a problem, with many families forced to choose between paying down months of back rent and utility bills or buying food. A program in the Mid-Atlantic region allows people to not only maximize their food assistance benefits but eat well while doing so.

People who sign up for Market Share on the FRESHFARM website can get a grocery bag full of fresh, local produce for $25 a week. Using government food assistance benefits like SNAP, that price is discounted 75% to just $6.

“We utilize the farmers market as the space to aggregate produce and redistribute it beyond the market footprint,” said Dalila Boclin of FRESHFARM.

FRESHFARM, which runs about a dozen farmers markets in the D.C. area, has long had a policy of matching food assistance purchases dollar-for-dollar.

The unprecedented need during the coronavirus pandemic gave birth to the idea to buy produce from farmers — many whose restaurant and commercial sales had dried up — and use it to create pop-up food hubs. FRESHFARM Markets in Ballston, Columbia Heights and the Parks at Walter Reed in D.C. are pick-up locations for individuals and nonprofit community partners. 

“A farmers market is actually a really nimble and community-driven solution to food access, building food security in a neighborhood,” Boclin said.

U.S. Census statistics released in March revealed one in nine children in this country continues to suffer from food insecurity, not always sure from where their next meal will come.

FRESHFARM’s website welcomes donations to help them get fresh fruits and vegetables to more people in need.

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