Fresh MARTA markets receive $500,000 USDA grant

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ATLANTA— MARTA plans to expand its fresh produce kiosks in 2018, thanks to a $500,000 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant, the agency announced today. Currently, the transit authority has Fresh MARTA Markets located at four rail stations.

The markets provide a convenient shopping alternative for fresh, affordable and locally grown produce. “We realize that all communities don’t have adequate access to fresh and affordable produce,” said Interim MARTA GM/CEO Elizabeth O’Neill. “This generous grant from the USDA enables MARTA to help bridge the nutritional gap from the convenience of our local stations and expand our increasingly popular Fresh MARTA Market program.”

Since its debut in 2015, the Fresh MARTA Market has expanded to include four rail stations—West End, College Park, H.E. Holmes and Five Points. The USDA grant will help to further expand this program in 2018.

This year, the Atlanta Community Food Bank conducted screenings for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Childcare and Parent Services programs (CAPS), which offers childcare subsidies to some of Georgia’s neediest families. “On average we have around 2,000 visitors weekly to the Fresh MARTA Market,” said MARTA’s Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development Amanda Rhein. “Of these sales, a third are through SNAP benefits, meaning we are successfully serving those disadvantaged populations our program targets.”

According to Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 study, more than 300,000 people within MARTA’s service area lack reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.

“The Fresh MARTA Market provides competitively priced, locally grown produce all within a transit accessible location while providing local farmers a unique opportunity to sell their products” O’Neill said.

The markets are managed in partnership with the Community Farmers Market, Atlanta Community Food Bank/Food Oasis-Atlanta, South West Atlanta Growers (SWAG) Cooperative and Organix Matters. Customers can purchase goods using cash, credit, debit or EBT.

Shoppers can also use Georgia Fresh for Less, formerly SNAP 2-for-1. Under the program, every dollar spent at the market becomes $2 in goods for shoppers.

“Simply put, you can get twice as much at the farmer’s market with Georgia Fresh for Less,” says Sara Berney, Wholesome Wave Georgia’s executive director. “We match SNAP and EBT – dollar for dollar – at participating farmer’s markets, so consumers pay less for fresh, local food that is higher quality and more nutritious.”

During this year’s Fresh MARTA Market season, the Authority launched the “fresh value” stands, which offer a variety of prepared items including salads, breads, baked goods and additional products grown and sourced locally.

There’s still time to enjoy this season’s Fresh MARTA Markets, which are open daily, 3 – 7 p.m.:

  •          West End, every Tuesday until Nov. 29, 2017
  •          H.E. Holmes every Wednesday until Nov. 29, 2017
  •          College Park every Thursday until Nov. 30, 2017
  •          Five Points every Friday until Dec. 1, 2017

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