Local Collaboration Results in Scores of Low-Income Children Fed at Farmers Markets Through USDA Summer Meals Program
National Farmers Market Week Celebration Boasts Successes, Unites Community
August 5, 2015 - Baltimore, MD — The Maryland Farmers Market Association and Maryland Hunger Solutions partnered to bring the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP or Summer Meals) to farmers markets in the Baltimore area. For the first time, Summer Meals are available at two participating Baltimore City farmers markets: Govanstowne and Pigtown. As part of National Farmers Market Week, local and state leaders joined with the community to celebrate.
SFSP feeds kids from low-income families who might otherwise miss meals during summer months when school meals aren’t available. It is a USDA federal nutrition program that is administered in Maryland by the Maryland State Department of Education. The Family League of Baltimore provided the meals as program sponsors.
"It's simple math; 85% of Baltimore students rely on free and reduced-priced meals during the school year. Only about 1 out- of- 5 are participating in summer meals. We have to do better job at fighting the summer nutrition gap." said Michael J. Wilson, Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions, citing research from the Food Research and Action Center. "That's why we're so excited about working with the Maryland Farmers Market Association and community partners to feed Baltimore's kids this summer."
“Farmers markets play a critical role in our local food environment and provide safe, positive, community gathering spaces,” said Amy Crone, Executive Director of the Maryland Farmers Market Association. “The collaboration with a program aimed to alleviate food insecurity and support our youth is a natural fit.”
The Govanstowne Farmers Market, sponsored by Loyola University as part of the York Road Initiative, was deemed an ideal pilot location due to its strong community ties and because it is in a food desert.
“It’s amazing to see how the community has taken ownership of summer meals as a resource,” said Marie McSweeny, Manager of the Govanstowne Farmers Market. “When we flyer in the neighborhoods around the market, residents are always grateful and excited to share the information about summer meals. It’s great when we see the same people we talked to the day before with a group of kids bringing them to get dinner at market,” she said.
The Govanstowne Farmers’ Market, sponsored by Loyola University Maryland as part of its York Road Initiative, was deemed an ideal launch and pilot location due to its strong community ties and because it serves a food desert.
Additional program participants include: United States Congressman John Sarbanes, Joseph Bartenfelder, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, Holly Freishtat, Baltimore Food Policy Director, Demaune Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Family League of Baltimore.
For more information, contact Maryland Hunger Solutions at 410-528-0021.