• Susan Poirier

West Michigan families, farmers, and local economy benefit with more options to buy locally-grown fo

Updated: Jan 7


Diets that focus on fresh vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed food are linked to lower risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Yet cost for basic needs in the U.S.— groceries, housing, health care, transportation—continue to increase and is leaving families unable to afford healthy, fresh food.

Consumers, farmers, the local economy, and environment all benefit when there are more options for farmers to sell and consumers to buy fresh local food at more locations throughout urban neighborhoods.

West Michigan farmers can now sell through the winter months at the Fulton Street Market and also through the Grand Rapids YMCA Veggie Van, which transports fresh produce every week to nine underserved neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.

The Double Up Food Bucks program is accepted at both Fulton Street Market and Veggie Van and gives SNAP-eligible shoppers using their Bridge Card double the buying power for vegetables and fruit—for instance, buying $20 of fresh vegetables qualifies for credit to purchase another $20 (maximum $20 credit in tokens per day). Seniors who receive Senior Project FRESH benefits can also use these coupons.

Fulton Street Farm Market (1145 Fulton Street, Grand Rapids) has the heated Headhouse and market pavilion open every Saturday now through April 27, 10 am-1 pm. The Winter Market is averaging about twenty-five vendors with locally-grown produce (grown in Michigan year-round or with a long shelf-life). Shop for apples, cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, greens, herbs, mushrooms, honey, milk, cheese, goat cheese; also home-crafted soup mixes, teas, jelly & jam, herb-infused oils.

Parking is free in the Farm Market lot (access from either Fulton Street or Fountain Street) and on the street. The Rapid’s Fulton-Fuller bus stop (Route 14) is directly out front of the Market Headhouse (bus and transportation info here).

The YMCA Veggie Van is bringing fresh produce directly, each week, to nine inner-city Grand Rapids Public schools making fresh produce more accessible to families. Vouchers are available through this grant-funded program for families in need (Veggie Van current schedule and locations).

Double Up Food Bucks began as a pilot program in 2009 in Detroit and is now so successful it is offered across the country. The program was reauthorized with the Farm Bill signed on December 20, 2018 and is funded through an equal match of federal and non-federal (private, state, local) funds.

Sources

Fran Korten. ‘Healthy Food Just Got a Big Boost in the New Farm Bill.’ January 10, 2019. YES! Magazine. https://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/healthy-food-just-got-a-big-boost-in-the-new-farm-bill-20190110

#farmmarkets #localfirst #foodsecurity #urbanfarming #publichealth #Michigan #WestMichigan #organicfarming #localfood #nutrition #slowfood

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