New Farmers’ Market Aimed at Low-Income Austinites
A new farmers’ market opens today in Northeast Austin. The Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market East is at 51st and 183 at the YMCA East Branch.
It’ll be open Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm.
This is the center’s fourth farmers’ market in Austin. But unlike the others, this location is aimed at low-income families.
“We are the first double-dollar incentive program in the state,” said Susan Leibrock with the Sustainable Food Center. “It’s just a way for people to literally double the value of their food assistance.”
The market will match purchases of fruits and vegetables up to $10 each week. Leibrock found inspiration from similar programs in California and Minnesota.
Stephanie Goodman with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission says giving patrons more buying power is just one piece of the puzzle.
“The farmers’ market still needs to be in a location that is convenient to our low-income consumers,” Goodman said. “That’s a big part of it. When you have a farmers’ market that is in their neighborhood or close to their neighborhood and the prices are good, then we have very good participation from folks that are getting food benefits from the state.”
Goodman says a couple of dozen farmers’ markets across the state accept food assistance payments.
Leibrock says the Sustainable Food Center’s research, using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that northeast Austin was significantly underserved — and was classified by the USDA as a food desert.
“A food desert is an area where there is such limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh, unprocessed food,” Leibrock said. “Our goal is to move the needle and really make a case for the redemption of fruits and vegetables for our most low-income clients.”
Even with the forecast for heavy rain today, the market’s opening day festivities will take place.