The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace manages a number of programs to help ensure that all members of the community have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food
CHCM provides incentives to low-income customers who shop at the market using Federal benefits, enabling these customers to buy more healthy food. Customers who shop with WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), and/or SNAP (food stamps) benefits at our farmers market can receive up to $10 in matching funds each week. Matching funds increase access to locally grown and produced foods, draw new customers to our market, and promote sustainable food systems by supporting local farmers. We operate one of the largest matching programs in the D.C. region. In 2013, nearly 20% of WIC farmers market benefits distributed across D.C. were spent at CHCM
The matching funds program helps us to eat healthily, to eat more vegetables, and to learn more about how to prepare vegetables -Matching Funds Program Participant
In 2014, CHCM operated the largest single-market incentives program in Washington, DC. And since our start in 2010, we have distributed over $75,000 in matching funds to low-income market shoppers. This program is possible only because of our generous donors and sponsors.
In 2014, CHCM launched Washington, D.C.’s first farmers market-based nutrition education program in partnership with Share our Strength, a nationally recognized anti-hunger organization, and Giant using the Cooking Matters at the Store (CMATS) curriculum modified to fit the farmers market context. These tours, which include both the farmers market and nearby Giant supermarket, empower participants with skills such as reading food labels, comparing unit prices, identifying whole grains, and shopping for fresh, local produce on a budget.
Tours are offered each Saturday the market is open, at 11:00am in Spanish and 11:30am in English. Customers can sign up in advance or day-of at the market. All participants receive $10 in incentives ($5 to spend the market and $5 to spend at Giant), as well as a free shopping bag and recipe book. All market shoppers are eligible to participate in these tours, but CHCM focuses on recruitment of WIC beneficiaries.
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FVRx is a unique weekly incentive program conducted in partnership with local hospitals. The program aims to improve health outcomes among overweight and obese children by increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. Doctors write “prescriptions” that participant 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. CHCM is one of five farmers markets in the city accepting FVRx, and has been the largest market partner for the FVRx program since it began.
Learn more about FVRX.