I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at the Crossroads Farmers Market in Takoma Park, Md. The market’s motto is, “Bringing fresh, local, healthy food to individuals of all incomes and backgrounds,” something we consistently support at the USDA. Just last week Crossroads received a $50,724 grant from The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to spread this message throughout a network of markets in Maryland, and I enjoyed seeing all the enthusiasm there on a glorious day in October.
In its fifth year of grant-making, FMPP has awarded $4.3 million for fiscal year 2010 to expand farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, and other producer-to-consumer markets that increase access to fresh, local foods. These grants help build a solid foundation for agriculture, while building a solid food system for many communities, including some which are otherwise underserved. All the vendors at Crossroads Farmers Market grow and/or process their own goods within a 125-mile radius of Takoma Park. At Crossroads, customers can use their WIC, SNAP, and Senior FMNP nutrition benefits, along with debit and credit cards and cash. An added feature at this location is the Fresh Check program, through which Crossroads matches federal nutrition assistance with cash-value coupons for use at the market. This increases the purchasing power of many low-income individuals, enabling them to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables purchased and increasing the revenue for a great group of local farmers.
It was a pleasure to be at Crossroads, where so much good is being done for so many people!