Best Food Access Program
Voter for one of the nominees below whose local food access program focuses on lessening hunger and food insecurity, making healthy and fresh food more accessible and affordable to all communities.
Arcadia Center for Sustainable Agriculture's Mobile Market
Arcadia’s access efforts are rooted in its Mobile Market program. Launched in 2012, the Mobile Market is a rolling farm stand that targets the DMV’s neediest communities and provides locally, sustainably grown fruits and vegetables, herbs, pastured eggs, grass-fed and pastured beef, pork, organic milk, cheese, handmade bread and honey. For seven months a year, the Mobile Market makes regular weekly stops in low-food access neighborhoods across the DMV. In order to make the locally-grown foods more affordable, the Mobile Market accepts and doubles the face value of SNAP, WIC, and Senior FMNP. While many nonprofits working in food access distribute healthy food for free, Arcadia’s market model charges customers for the food it sells, thereby enlisting its customers as partners in their health and the health of their families. Because they pay for it, the food has inherent value, and they choose what they most want -- and therefore are highly likely to consume it. Buying farmers’ products at wholesale rather than gleaning or seeking discounts ensures that sustainability doesn’t come at the expense of farmers’ ability to make a sustainable living. Arcadia builds demand for healthy, local foods by increasing its customers’ culinary skills through demonstrations and production of a Mobile Market Seasonal Cookbook. Awareness also extends through Arcadia’s educational programs that include field trips to Arcadia’s demonstration farm for local pre-K through 5th graders. Since 2012, Arcadia has hosted 6,100 students on 130 field trips, 4,500 students through 49 school visits, and 500 students through its Farm in the Classroom Program.
DC Greens has been running a Produce Prescription Program in Washington, DC since 2012. Through this program, patients at risk for or experiencing diet-related chronic illness receive prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables from their health care providers. Patients redeem their prescriptions at DC farmers' markets for checks that can be spent on fresh farmers' market produce. Participants receive a little over $1 per day per family member: a family of 4 receives $35/week for the duration of the six-month program. In 2017, this program is partnering with 7 health clinics in Wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8. For the past five years, the program has helped over 1,500 patients and family members access fresh produce from the farmers' market, and these participants have spent over $175,000 with local farmers. ■Approximately 50% of program participants see some reduction in their BMI during their participation in the program. ■This program is supported by the DC Department of Health and AmeriHealth Caritas.
Joyful Food Markets
A program of Martha’s Table, the Joyful Food Market (JFM) program addresses the structural inequity of access to nutritious food in DC by meeting families where they are and providing quality food in a joyful and dignified environment. Our replicable model has proven effective at addressing urban food insecurity and increasing healthy food consumption. One in three DC households battles food insecurity, and families in Wards 7 and 8 are disproportionately affected. Of the city’s 49 grocery stores, only three are in these communities, forcing families to travel long distances or shop at more conveniently located corner stores and fast food restaurants. Even if families can travel to purchase food, they face financial barriers—the average family income in these Wards is under $32,000. The result is a public health crisis of obesity and malnutrition, which impacts children’s ability to succeed in school and prepare to enter the workforce. In January 2015, Martha’s Table, in partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, launched JFMs to increase access to and encourage consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables east of the Anacostia River. Their markets occur monthly in elementary schools in Wards 7 and 8. Bountiful tables fill the space while festive music plays, chefs provide cooking demonstrations, and students enjoy food preparation activities that make healthy eating fun. Enrolled children and their families shop for fruits, vegetables, and healthy non-perishables, filling grocery bags with food—40% of which is fresh produce.