Community Outreach & Engagement
Through its markets and staff, Community Foodworks works to maintain a strong presence in the communities we serve. We’ve forged strong partnerships with local schools, health clinics, WIC centers, and community groups to project a sense of welcome across the community and introduce families to local food as well as our financial support programs.
The Columbia Heights Farmers Market offers the largest portfolio of access and incentives programs of any single market in Washington, DC.
Our "Bonus Bucks" program for matching SNAP, WIC, and Senior FMNP dollars spent at the market is the backbone of our financial support programs. CFW provides up to $10 matching for customers who shop at the market using their federal nutrition benefits. Last year we distributed more than $20K to thousands of low-income customers, many of whom are regular weekly customers. Over 20% of WIC FMNP spent in DC was spent at our Columbia Heights Farmers Market. This year we brought SNAP incentives to Arlington for the first time.
Subsidized SNAP CSA
As a sub-grantee on Wholesome Wave's national FINI award, Community Foodworks created a subsidized SNAP CSA at the Columbia Heights Farmers Market, where customers who receive food stamps (SNAP) are eligible for a reduced price fruit & veggie bag each week ($8 EBT reduced from $33 retail.)
Unlike other reduced-priced programs, our SNAP CSA is a subset of the retail CSA, which is open to everyone in the community. In addition to fruit and veggie distribution, our express goal was to create an experience equal in quality, service, and delivery to increase feelings of social equality justice and community
In its pilot year, over 40 needy families enjoyed a 75% discount on their weekly fruits and vegetables. For $8 of SNAP, they took home enough fresh food to feed at minimum three adults, were introduced to new items (like tomatillos and fairytale eggplant!) and were able to enjoy some seasonal fruits (raspberries, blackberries, apricots) that would have been too costly to purchase otherwise.
CSA Home Delivery for seniors
DC offers a number of independent and state-funded dry food supplemental programs for seniors in need; however, these programs have extremely limited access to fresh goods, and even less access to produce. Community Foodworks added a third pilot to the Market Share CSA to help address this issue.
The program delivers an appropriately portioned produce bag for seniors in Columbia Heights. In addition to qualifying as low-income, participants have limited mobility and therefore limited access to the farmers market, as well as its incentive and financial support programs. We partnered with an independent senior care network We Are Family to deliver the much needed fresh produce directly to their doorsteps. This weekly stream of fruits and veggies came at no cost to participants: seniors paid for using state-funded benefits that they otherwise would not have been able to capture and redeem.
2015 marked the first-ever inclusion of a farmers market as a state-sponsored DC Free Summer Meals site. By partnering with CentroNia, a healthy school-meal producer, Community Foodworks distributed 3-4 dozen snacks to hungry children during Wednesday market hours.
Moreover, CFW and CentroNia have a shared vision for 2016-- to utilize local food sourced from our farmers in summer meals and snacks. Our goal is for children and parents to discover, taste, and enjoy local food in an environment where it’s also highly affordable. We hope the free meal not only fills hungry bellies but also provides an incentive to build good shopping habits. The site will also expand to include lifestyle-nutrition education and increase from a simple snack to a full meal.
FVRx is a unique weekly incentive program that aims to improve health outcomes among overweight and obese children by increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. Doctors write “prescriptions” that participants can redeem for fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets (typically $1 per household member per day).
FVRx is an initiative of Unity Healthcare and DC Greens, with funding and support from Wholesome Wave. The Columbia Heights Farmers Market was one of the first FVRx implementation sites and has been the largest farmers market partner for the FVRx program since it began.
Veteran Vegetable Prescription Program V2Rx
As many as 1 million veterans nationwide live with diabetes in addition to other diet-related conditions.
There are currently no nutrition incentive programs tailored specifically for veterans.
Community Foodworks piloted a Veterans Vegetable Prescription Program as incentive in late 2015. V2Rx was designed to encourage veteran participation in their local farmers market while ensuring they receive subsidized access to fresh, local food.
We partnered with a local branch of the VA's Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) to distribute weekly fruit and vegetable vouchers to eligible veterans who were interested in and able to receiving fresh food support. Vouchers were provided based on household size (between $5-$15 per week; Vets were able to redeem vouchers at the Brookland Farmers market during regular Saturday hours. Additionally, veterans who received SNAP benefits were entitled to receive CFW's Bonus Bucks incentive to match the SNAP value they used at the market.
Check out this interactive map that highlights SNAP accepting farmers markets relative to Veteran facilities across the country.
Community Foodworks works with community partners to offer specialized incentive programs. Some examples of our partners in 2015:
We worked with charter school and healthy school meal producer CentroNia to offer $2,500 worth of incentives at the Columbia Heights market to participants in CentroNia's nutrition education courses.
We also partnered with La Clinica del Pueblo to provide food shopping information, market tours, and financial incentives to participants in their renowned obesity and diabetes intervention