Locally grown produce will be for sale starting July 12 at the three area HEAL Farmers Markets, which are located in food deserts. Food deserts are areas that have low access to fresh food and a significant number of low-income families.
HEAL stands for Healthy Eating Active Living and is a partnership between the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health. HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne operates the markets.
Just like in years past, an abundance of locally grown produce will be available at all three locations; WIC (Women, Infants & Children) produce vouchers, Senior produce vouchers, and all SNAP (food stamp) purchases will be matched $1 for $1, while funding remains and with some restrictions. That means anyone using SNAP or WIC/Senior vouchers gets double the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables for their family. Veggie RX, a Parkview Health program, is also accepted, as are cash, credit and debit payments.
HEAL Market locations and times are:
- McCormick Place, 3005 McCormick Ave., Wednesdays, July 12-September 13, 5-7 p.m.
- Parkview Community Greenhouse and Learning Kitchen, 1716 Beacon St., Thursdays, July 13-September 14, 4-6 p.m.
- South Side Farmers Market, 3300 Warsaw St., Saturdays, July 15-October 28, 9 a.m.-Noon.
“Inflation remains high and is squeezing food budgets for area residents,” said Meg Distler, executive director of the foundation. “The HEAL markets double the buying power for many low-income residents so they can stretch their food dollars while also feeding their families highly nutritious and locally grown fruits and vegetables.”
“In any community, the resources you have access to are closely tied to your health, and these can vary significantly based on where you live,” said Sarah GiaQuinta, MD, MPH, senior vice president of Community Health and Equity at Parkview Health. “In Fort Wayne, the disparities in access to healthy, affordable foods are reflected in the health outcomes we see locally. Neighborhoods identified as food deserts are also those with the highest rates of chronic disease. Fresh produce is foundational to health, and we are proud to partner with St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Midwest in our work to make nourishing food accessible to all through HEAL farmers markets.”
“We are excited to continue providing interpretation services at the markets, as well as culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables by partnering with African American and Burmese farmers,” said Felicia Say, HEAL coordinator for HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne. “Diversity is essential because these underserved groups disproportionately live in food deserts like those where our markets are located. The markets, then, greatly increase access to fresh produce necessary for healthy living.”
Again, this year, the WIC Office and Aging & In-Home Services will be on site at the McCormick Place and Parkview Community Greenhouse and Learning Kitchen markets to issue a limited number of WIC and Senior produce vouchers to those who qualify. This year, the vouchers will be electronic instead of paper and will be issued to a smart phone or with a QR code. WIC and Senior participants should contact the WIC office or Aging & In-Home Services to stay informed of when and how the vouchers will be available. Vouchers and the $1 for $1 match are accepted at any of the HEAL markets.
HEAL Markets are the only farmers markets in the area that double the produce purchased with WIC and Senior vouchers. SNAP is now doubled at all HEAL Markets, Plowshares/Rose Farm mobile markets, Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market, Plowshares at Union Street Market, the 3 Rivers Food Co-Op and the Health Food Shoppe of Fort Wayne as part of Double Up Indiana. (Learn more at DoubleUpIndiana.org.)
HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne and the St. Joe Foundation are sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.