October 22, 2010

Our Very Own Farmers Market!

With the help of several generous local farmers, Bread for the City successfully hosted our very own farmers’ market--with a twist. All the produce was free! At our Southeast Center on Monday, October 4th, we provided over 100 clients and community members with 750 lbs of fresh, free produce.

Despite taking place in our conference room (because of rain outside) the market had an authentic feel, complete with cooking demonstrations, taster samples, and volunteer ‘vendors’ staffing the produce stands. For clients, it was an opportunity to learn more about the fruits and veggies that (thanks to Glean for the City) now fill our food pantry shelves.

Staff Nutrition Consultant Sharon Gruber prepared healthy, delicious samples; including a fresh beet salad and tasty apple dish. Staff and volunteers discussed options with folks as they browsed the wide selection of fresh produce. And while spirits were high, we made sure to recruit attendees to attend our monthly cooking and nutrition workshops.

With bags of fresh, free produce and delicious samples in hand, people were eager to talk about food. We discussed the high cost and inequitable access to fresh produce, the overwhelming health benefits of fresh versus canned, and the initial barriers to cooking fresh produce. One client stated: “Whole Foods and Teeters have the best options, but they are too darn expensive.” One client exclaimed to another: “It’s good for your heart! It’s good for your blood.” Another, after talking food shop with Sharon, noted: “recipes and education is key - some folks just don’t know how to cook the fresh veggies. But if you show them how, they will try it.”

Everyone clearly took pride in having their very own market; and they embraced the opportunity to learn about nutrition. In fact, many clients signed up for our nutrition and cooking classes and to be involved in our SE rooftop garden so that they could become more involved in our health and wellness programs.

Long time client Carol Motley summed it up best when she exclaimed, “This market is a nutrition mecca!” Ms. Motley told us that she's lost 40 lbs since switching to a vegetable-rich diet, and that she's sharing this with her children too. "But it is extremely hard to afford. If you did the markets every month it would be HUGE for me and my family.”

We're happy to oblige. Next summer, we plan to host several Bread for the City Farmers Markets!

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