Need: This project will transform farmers markets across Milwaukee County through coalition building, policy & procedure development, staff and volunteer training, and awareness building. We seek to increase federal benefit (SNAP, WIC, FMNP) redemption by low-income consumers at area farmers markets & to create a cultural shift that results in a wider diversity of citizens accessing farmers markets. Farmers markets appeal traditionally to white, upper middle class people. This is a food justice issue that will be remedied only through structural and social changes leading to increased opportunities for produce intake for all. Fondy Farmers Market, a project of Fondy Food Center (FFC), is located on Milwaukee’s Northside—a neighborhood marked by disparities in health, income, & food security. Increased acceptance of federal nutrition benefits at farmers markets has been shown to improve access to nutritious foods for low-income shoppers. Of Milwaukee’s 22 farmers markets, only 8 accept SNAP and 14 accept WIC FMNP; and those that do report only a small percentage of SNAP sales. One exception – locally and nationally – is FFC, whose total 2014 SNAP sales reached $48,392, compared to a national average of $4,628. Recognized as a leader in food insecurity work, FFC will lead the proposed coalition.
Population: Several populations will be affected by this project: low-income consumers (75,000 Milwaukee County households in have received SNAP benefits in primary service areas in the year); farmers markets & farmers will experience increased sales, resulting in a greater economic impact within local communities; & decision makers will experience increased awareness of the issue & change strategy.
Change Strategy: Our change strategy calls for the engagement of public & private stakeholders through a coalition designed to increase local farmer’s markets service to low- income residents. The coalition will work together to assess markets' technical capabilities, staff & volunteer capacity, as well as their “culture”- which may or may not attract diverse shoppers. Opportunities to increase low- income community members’ use of and access to local markets will be identified and may include incentive programs, marketing and outreach plans, diversification of market vendors, training of market staff and volunteers, & partnership-building. By the end of the grant period, a best practice guide with recommended policies & procedures will be developed and distributed locally and statewide.
Partners: Our partnership is led by FFC and the Medical College of WI-Dept of Family and Community Medicine. Our partnership will expand in phases. Early adopters are organizations that we have had initial conversations with and that are primed to begin work: Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market, Milwaukee Health Dept-WIC Program, Walker Square Farmers Market, Riverwest Winter Market, & Gorman & Co. Next we will target partners we are highly engaged with and organizations that are mission aligned with the project: Walnut Way, UW-Ex, WI DHS, the City of Milwaukee, and health systems such as Columbia St Mary’s, as well as farmers markets that currently accept federal nutrition benefits. Ultimately we are aiming for 15 multi-sector coalition partners.
Impact: This project will better equip markets to not just offer SNAP purchasing options, but to increase their SNAP customer bases, ultimately improving low-income residents’ access to affordable fresh produce over time. We anticipate achieving both structural & social sustainability for lasting PSE change. Structurally, the coalition will continue and the policies, procedures and best practices will be made accessible to state wide networks. We anticipate impacting SE WI region and engaging with state wide audiences during this two year grant. And we recognize the potential to achieve wider state level impact once we demonstrate the success of our best practice model and continue the work beyond the project. Socially this project will result in lasting changes adopted by markets & organizations. Increased consumption of produce over time is proven to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease.
- Conduct initial assessment/environmental scan; repeat at 12 and 24 months
- Establish coalition and create initial profile sheets to assess individual coalition members
- Develop and deploy MACRO AND MICRO policies and procedures; deploy across Farmers Markets; apply evaluation strategy to assess impact.
- Conduct >/= 4 trainings geared towards coalition needs with invite extended regionally
- Develop public awareness campaign for community members & key decision makers
- Continue coalition efforts to sustain change
- Disseminate best practice guide & findings to existing local/statewide stakeholders and networks