FRESHFARM responds to COVID-19 with healthy food and nutrition for our community
FRESHFARM is a nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture and improves food access and equity in the Mid-Atlantic region. We operate producer-only farmers markets that provide vital economic opportunities to local farmers and food producers, pioneering food distribution programs that increase food access for low-income communities, and innovative food education that builds healthier communities. Our core programs include:
In 2019, FRESHFARM merged with Community Foodworks to become the largest farmers market organization in the Mid-Atlantic, and the third-largest in the country. Last year, our 27 markets generated $16 million in revenue for 240 local farmers and food producers, and distributed over $122,445 in nutrition incentive dollars for low-income residents to afford healthy, local food.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we enforced new safety protocols to keep our outdoor markets open and safe as crucial access points for fresh food that support the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers and producers. A shopper had this to say, “They have done amazing work to provide farmers, vendors, and residents an online marketplace to sell and obtain fresh produce and food every week. The protections, signage, and planning FRESHFARM and the vendors have taken to ensure food and customer safety in an outdoor market should be making headlines.”
Since the beginning of the year through September, we also provided $125,000 in nutrition incentive dollars to individuals using SNAP, WIC, and senior checks to buy produce at our markets.
FoodPrints integrates gardening, cooking, and nutrition education into core academics in partnership with DC Public Schools. Our expert educators teach hands-on lessons that get students excited about growing, preparing, and enjoying fresh, local whole foods — and bring science, math and social studies to life — with the goal of improving health outcomes of children and families. The evidence-based FoodPrints curriculum reaches 5,800 students and their families across the city and empowers residents to make healthier choices.
While schools are closed due to COVID-19, FoodPrints provides virtual food and garden education through live lessons, teaching videos, online resources at www.freshfarm.org/foodprintsanywhere, and an immersive learning model with classes bolstered by home delivery of food and supplies. We also cultivate school gardens to help feed children and families during the pandemic.
FoodPrints has been shown to increase knowledge of and preference for fresh produce and nutritious foods. Students, families, and school staff greatly value the program as these testimonials show: “The language and respect you have introduced around food has become important in our household,” “It’s critical this kind of program gets into schools across the city, regardless of economic status of the neighborhood,” and “FoodPrints is my favorite day of the month at school!”
Pop-Up Food Hub (PUFH)
The PUFH is an innovative, low-infrastructure model of local food distribution that utilizes the farmers market space as a temporary hub to sort, pack, and then deliver healthy, local food to families and community-based organizations such as health clinics, childcare facilities, and senior centers.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we rapidly scaled the PUFH to connect the local food supply to vulnerable residents experiencing food insecurity, diet-related chronic disease, or who are immunocompromised. Since the pandemic began through September, we have delivered more than 17,300 bags of local produce across Washington, D.C., and Arlington/Fairfax Counties in Virginia -- equal to 330,000 servings of fruits and vegetables! One of our recipients of local food is an uninsured pregnant woman who said, “I am a single mother, and I just spend all day worrying… worrying about the infection, about leaving the house because I could bring something home to my son. And now we have something fresh. This is so important to help us all. But also to help my baby.”
By feeding families with locally-sourced high-quality produce, the PUFH has generated over $415,000 to support the regional farm economy.