Michigan: A Mobile Farmers’ Market Makes Buying Fresh, Healthier Food Easier
Eating a diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is important to good health. In a survey conducted by the Washtenaw County, Michigan, health department’s Encuesta Buenos Vecinos (Good Neighbors) program, Latino residents identified access to healthy foods as an important health issue to them. The city of Ypsilanti in Washtenaw County has a rapidly growing Latino population that has limited opportunity to buy or grow fresh, healthy food. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) used a portion of its 2015 Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to support a farmers’ market that would reach the Latinos living in Ypsilanti.
Growing Hope, a community support organization formed in 2003, helps Ypsilanti neighborhoods access fresh produce and garden space to grow their own healthy food. Although local farmers’ markets and urban gardens are helpful, many Latinos in the broader community still have trouble getting fresh produce. Recognizing this challenge, MDHHS partnered with Growing Hope to create a mobile farmers’ market—a trailer carrying garden produce to three sites with high Latino populations and little access to healthy, fresh food. One site is the courtyard of the county’s Human Services Campus, where the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Community Support and Treatment Services, and MDHHS maintain offices. A Spanish-speaking WIC dietician provides translation services to customers whenever the stand is onsite.
From mid-July through October 2015, more than 1,600 people visited this mobile farm stand, generating nearly $3,700 in sales. Twenty percent of sales were covered by food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project FRESH, and Washtenaw County Public Health’s Prescription for Health.
MDHHS also gave out 240 coupons for clients to redeem at the mobile farmers’ market, stretching the people’s buying power. For every dollar in coupons redeemed, 2 dollars of fruits and vegetables could be purchased. Farmers’ markets like the one in Washtenaw County make it easier for people to buy and eat fresh, healthy foods.
Story year: 2015