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Connecting All of our Neighbors to Healthy Market Food

Posted September 30, 2019

Connecting All of our Neighbors to Healthy Market Food

We all adore the bright, colorful produce lining the stalls of Pike Place Market – and we can’t help but take a sample or two as we walk by and add these fresh, local tastes to our shopping bags. But these fruits and vegetables are more than just a colorful backdrop of the Market; access to fresh, local produce is a critical component to the health of the Market and the community.

That’s why our vision is to ensure all of our low-income neighbors have access to the nourishing abundance available at the farm stands and produce stalls of the Market. Throughout the city, we’re seeing an increased need for healthy food:

  • 30% of downtown Seattle residents or 21,000 people report running out of food every month.
  • The cost of food is one of the biggest barriers to eating healthy.
  • Without access to healthy food, health care costs increase significantly.

These stats are particularly alarming when looking at the Market community, where many of the workers, artists, and residents are currently unable to afford the healthy produce available in the Market. To address this growing need, we are committed to expanding our Food Access Programs.

Our goal this year is to increase the reach of our Food Access Program by 20% to help 1,000 more people bring home Market produce.

For decades, the Market Foundation has operated a variety of reduced price shopping programs for low-income residents downtown. Our goal is to get fresh produce in the hands of those who need it most, while also supporting our local farmers. Yet, with the increased cost of living in the region we are now seeing that our retail and service workers need the added support too.

For long-time Market artist (over 35 years in the Market and counting!) and resident of the Market’s senior housing Bekka, access to healthy food is important to her entire family. Bekka and her daughter Rosie run a daystall in Pike Place Market where they sell colorful handmade paintings of the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and other famous vistas.

Their gorgeous artwork is a staple of the Market, and while they run a successful art business, it’s still difficult to afford the kind of produce they need to keep their family healthy.

It’s no surprise, as the cost of living continues to climb, food budgets shrink when rent, utilities, and transportation eat up the majority of income.

“It makes a huge difference in my grocery budget, especially with how expensive Seattle is getting”, says Bekka.

Through her participation in the Food Access Program, Bekka cooks and eats fresh produce that she normally couldn’t afford. “It’s really nice because I would never allow myself to buy this stuff”, she smiles, “Now I get produce that I didn’t realize I could cook for everyone!”

Bekka first heard about the Market Foundation’s Food Access program through The Market Commons, a community resource center that provides support to anyone living or working in the Market or downtown. Staff from The Market Commons went around the Market to educate the workers and vendors to sign up for fresh, seasonal produce through the summer’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Their goal was to increase enrollment in the program which offers reduced rates for low-income Market workers and residents, many who are living on fixed incomes.

Bekka was so excited about the program that she is now helping to spread the word around the Market! “It’s so easy – I just walked up to the CSA farm tent, and they presented me with these amazing vegetables,” said Bekka.

It’s even created a new Market tradition for her family. Now, every Wednesday, her daughter Rosie helps Bekka carry the week’s fresh produce back to the apartment to learn new recipes for the week.

Bekka smiles, “It exposes us to new tastes that we never imagined!”

By supporting the health and stability of all of the vendors, families, farmers and seniors who call the Market community home, we are keeping this community alive and well.

Donate to support Food Access today and be part of the solution to keep thousands of low-income residents, students, families, and working artists like Bekka healthy and nourished.