One of our guiding principles at the Montavilla Farmers Market is fairness and affordability. These words might not have a lot of meaning by themselves, but when you think of them in terms of health, nutrition, and wellness it becomes evident that the Montavilla Farmers Market has a responsibility to improving our community’s access to fresh and healthy food, regardless of an individual’s income. In light of this, in 2010 we started the market’s “Everybody Eats” program.
One of the huge knocks against farmers markets—and local food in general—is that it isn’t accessible to a broad population. The Everybody Eats program bridges a portion of that gap by matching the first $5 of each Oregon Trail (food stamp) purchase at the market and creating an incentive for people to shop locally and support local agriculture. Everybody Eats, a program funded by a generous Pacific Village grant from New Seasons Market, has been incredibly successful and has helped bring new shoppers to the market. Unfortunately, given its popularity, program funds are running out and we are only midway through the season.
Starting last year, the Everybody Eats program took another step toward food equity by partnering with St. Vincent de Paul and raising $1,175 in donations from customers, vendors, and market match. $25 in market tokens were provided to 47 food insecure families prior to the Thanksgiving market. This concept came out of the Food Forum hosted by former market board member and local food advocate Kyle Curtis.
This year, by working with Multnomah County’s Aging and Disabilities Services Division, the program is reaching out to seniors at the Belmont Center. While not all details are finalized, the program plans to deliver bags of fresh fruits and veggies—purchased from vendors at the Montavilla Farmers Market—to seniors who lack sufficient access to quality food. Interested seniors will purchase these bags for $2.50 prior to the market when community volunteers shop collectively for the seniors. The Everybody Eats program will match their purchase and the senior’s money will be pooled to extend their purchasing power. While $5 of produce doesn’t seem like a huge amount, many of these seniors are on extremely tight budgets and a weekly delivery of fresh green beans, berries, cherry tomatoes, and other snacky fruits and vegetables can go far towards improving their diet.
To ensure the continuation of the Everybody Eats program, a donation jar will be available at our info booth to accept tokens or money for the remainder of the season. Customers who are interested in donating to Everybody Eats can also do so using their debit cards at the market. You may also mail a check made out to the “Montavilla Farmers Market” with “Everybody Eats” in the memo line, or donate online through PayPal. 100% of your donation will go directly to local families and individuals in need while supporting market vendors. Help us ensure that everybody eats at our farmers market this season!
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