PCFMA Partner awarded USDA Grant to Launch Mobile Farmers' Market

Posted October 17, 2012

Fresh Approach has been awarded funding from the USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to develop and operate a mobile farmers’ market in low-income food deserts in Contra Costa County, California. The plan is for the mobile farmers’ market to operate four times per week in food deserts in five Contra Costa communities: Brentwood, Concord, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo. Fresh Approach will also provide 48 interactive nutrition education sessions at community-based organizations to promote the purchase local fruits and vegetables. These sessions will also promote the CalFresh nutrition assistance program whose benefits will be accepted at the mobile market.

Allen Moy, the Executive Director of Fresh Approach, said the organization is very grateful to USDA for their support. “The support of the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program will allow us to pilot an innovative, market-based approach to bringing fresh, local, healthy and seasonal fruits and vegetables into low-income communities where those products can be hard to find,” he said. “We are confident that the mobile farmers’ market will not only help families to better meet their food needs, but will also help to sustain California farmers, keeping those food dollars circulating within our state economy.”

For the past year Fresh Approach has been working with a number of community partners to pilot a variety of efforts to increase healthy food access in Bay Area communities. This summer in collaboration with Alameda County Social Services, Fresh Approach has set up weekly farm stands at four low-income senior centers. Additionally, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Napa/Solano and the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, Fresh Approach has set up a weekly farm stand in a food desert in Fairfield.

Contra Costa County was targeted for the mobile farmers’ market due to the high rates of nutrition-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; the presence of communities meeting the USDA definition of a food desert; and its close proximity to farming areas such as Brentwood and the Capay Valley. While Contra Costa County has the lowest percentage of food insecurity in the state, there are communities within the county in which food access remains a challenge. Due to the abundance of inexpensive high-calorie foods and lack of healthy food options, 56% of adults in the county are overweight or obese and 46,000 individuals have type II diabetes (County Nutrition Profile-2010). While 48% of residents in Contra Costa County are eligible for the nutrition assistance programs that can be used for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets and other food retail outlets, these program benefits are infrequently used on healthy foods due to difficulties accessing these foods at local food retail outlets (Feeding America).

Fresh Approach’s mission is to encourage healthier children, families, and communities through community education, innovative programming, and novel partnerships that promote a stronger local food system and better-informed choices about food and nutrition. Fresh Approach is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Concord, California.

The Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is a federal grant program overseen by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The FMPP offers grants to help improve and expand direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Over $9 million was awarded in grants to organizations across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for projects for the upcoming funding year. The funding for the FMPP is provided by the Farm Bill and its continuation depends on the Farm Bill’s renewal.

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