While most of America was gearing up for the 2016 election, the American Public Health Association (APHA) held its annual meeting in Denver, CO from October 28 to November 2. Among the breaking research presented were studies detailing the benefits of farmers markets, and not just for the wealthy white folks who have historically used them. Initiatives like the Milwaukee Farmers Market Connection in Wisconsin seek to make markets more accessible to low-income residents by improving the ease of using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP a.k.a. food stamps) benefits. Farmers markets across the US already accept SNAP benefits, yet only half of all SNAP dollars are spent there nationally.
The advantages of farmers markets and community gardens are well-established, but it was previously thought that they primarily improve the nutrition of their largely wealthy and white clientele. By offering a test group of 100 lower-income residents vouchers to shop at their local market, the Milwaukee Farmers Market Connection was able to bring in people who may otherwise never visited. Ninety-five percent of this pilot group said that they “both enjoyed the food and planned to return in the future.”
Diverse communities can look to pilot programs like this as a way to bring the nutritional benefits of farmers markets to those who need it the most.
Do you shop at farmers markets? Where do you shop? Share in the comments.