Two farmers markets focus on food access

Cross-posted from my Examiner.com farmers market site.

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As a recent American Prospect article made clear, not all farmers markets are geared toward shoppers who need fresh fruits and vegetables the most. Yet two markets in the District have opened or expanded this season to address that critical constituency.

The Howard University Hospital (HUH) began hosting a twice-weekly farmers market Tuesday, May 11, and will continue to feature produce from Pennsylvania and North Carolina farmers each Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the hospital courtyard. The hospital is located in Ward 1 at 2041 Georgia Avenue NW, near the Shaw/Howard University Metro and steps off several Metrobus routes. The market accepts WIC and Senior CSFP vouchers.

The purpose of the market, according to a Howard press release, is to help address the scarcity of fresh fruits and vegetables in African American communities. With its location in Ward 1, the campus is a good place to start. The market is a project of the program HUH CARES, and has been commended by Dr. Denia Tapscott, a bariatrician and program director for the Center for Wellness and Weight Loss Surgery, as a service that can address the obesity epidemic among African Americans. The market may get a mention as part of EBONY Magazine’s year-long coverage of the center.

The Ward 8 Farmers’ Market starts its season on Saturday, June 5. The market, which carries a social justice mission, is now entering its 12th season of bringing fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, and more from Pennsylvania and Maryland to the heart of Congress Heights. The market will be held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the old Congress Heights School at 500 Alabama Ave. SE, near the Anacostia and Congress Heights Metro stations on the green line. For years, this area suffered from a dearth of grocery stores but an abundance of small corner stores, where fresh food makes up only one percent of the offerings.

The market will expand this year, creating the only weekday farmers market east of the Anacostia River. Beginning on June 8, it will operate from the parking lot of the United Medical Center at 1310 Southern Ave. SE near the Southern Avenue Metro station on the green line. The market will run each Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. through October. Also new this year is a website for the market: www.ward8farmersmarket.com.

Both Ward 8 Farmers’ Market locations will accept EBT cards issued in D.C., SNAP cards issued in Maryland, the new WIC Cash Value Checks (CVC), and other food assistance coupons such as those offered by the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

The market continues to provide vegetables and fruit to corner stores in Congress Heights, with the help of a grant from the Capital Area Food Bank, in exchange for the promise that they are sold to the public at reasonable prices.

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