news

Market Umbrella Awarded Nearly $400,000 to Increase Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income New Orleanians


New USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program funds expanded Market Match SNAP incentive program at the four locations of the Crescent City Farmers Market and pilot program at Circle Food Store

NEW ORLEANS, LA, - Market Umbrella, the New Orleans-based 501(c)3 non-profit that operates the four locations of the Crescent City Farmers Market and serves as a regional mentor and national model for farmers markets, has been awarded $378,326 from the United States Department of Agriculture‘s (USDA) new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program. This funding will allow Market Umbrella to offer its Market Match program, which matches SNAP purchases of up to $20 per visit to the Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM), year-round, rather than seasonally. These matching funds may be used to purchase fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers who sell at the CCFM. Market Umbrella will also pilot a similar incentive program at Circle Food Store and work with owner Dwayne Boudreaux to increase the store‘s local produce offerings.

Market Umbrella Executive Director Kathryn Parker says: “We are thrilled to be selected for inclusion in the FINI program for the expansion of Market Match. We know that all residents in New Orleans love good local healthy food found at the Crescent City Farmers Market, but some lack the resources to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Expansion of Market Match through this FINI program will provide additional education and encouragement for people to utilize their SNAP benefits at the Crescent City Farmers Market, keeping more dollars in our local economy. We look forward to partnering with the Circle Foods store to create the Circle Match program which will encourage even more residents to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat.”

A pioneer in healthy food incentives, Market Umbrella launched its Market Match program for SNAP shoppers at the CCFM in 2009, with support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Since then, SNAP sales at the CCFM have increased 348%. Market Match incentivizes SNAP participants to spend their benefits with local food producers, maximizing the impact these federal dollars have on our local food economy. The goal of the new Market Match project is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income New Orleans residents through year-round expansion of SNAP incentives offered at CCFM locations and the initiation of a similar incentive program in a locally and minority-owned grocery store, Circle Food Store. Market Umbrella will convene a community-based project steering committee to advise on expanding its existing Market Match incentive program and transitioning it to one in which incentive funds may only be spent on fruits and vegetables.

Dwayne Boudreaux , owner of the Circle Food Store, says, “We are so excited to be a part of such a wonderful and necessary program. We have strived to offer quality produce and fresh foods to our community for decades, and we know that the FINI program will allow us to educate and serve even more people in our community who are in desperate need of quality fresh foods and produce.”

FINI is a joint effort between USDA‘s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA‘s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and has responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of the incentive projects. FINI brings together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and fosters understanding of how they might improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households.

All FINI projects must (1) have the support of a state SNAP agency; (2) increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (3) operate through authorized SNAP retailers; (4) agree to participate in the comprehensive FINI program evaluation; (5) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by both SNAP participants and non-participants; and (6) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities. The FINI program is authorized and funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill. More information can be found on the NIFA website.

Market Umbrella, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, cultivates the field of public markets for public good. The organization utilizes its Crescent City Farmers Markets as platforms for innovation, learning and sharing with the growing field of public markets. More information at marketumbrella.org.

Crescent City Farmers Market celebrating 20 years in 2015: Uptown: Tuesdays 9am-1pm, 200 Broadway St., (Tulane University Square); French Quarter: Wednesdays 2-6 pm, 1235 N. Peters St. (French Market, between Ursulines and Governor Nichols); Mid-City: Thursdays 3-7pm, 3700 Orleans Ave., (American Can Apartments); Downtown: Saturdays 8am-12noon, 700 Magazine St., at Girod St.; All markets operate year-round, rain or shine; More information at crescentcityfarmersmarket.org.