People who want to eat healthy foods may find that incredibly difficult to do if they live in a food desert. Martha’s Table believes that access to fresh, healthy food is essential for supporting stronger children, families, and community. Martha’s Table has created healthy eating initiatives to help families make healthy choices.
The USDA defines food deserts as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. Food deserts are often found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.
Martha’s Table began in 1979 as a result of the partnership between Dr. Veronica Maz and Father Horace McKenna, who wanted to create a safe place for children to eat and read after school. Martha’s Table has expanded their services, in response to the needs of the community, since then. Martha’s Table is located in Washington, D.C.
Martha’s Table provides Healthy Markets. They are pop-up grocery stores where children, their families, and neighbors can shop at no cost for fresh, healthy produce and healthy pantry supplies. At least 40% of the food available at each market is composed of produce such as sweet potatoes, cabbage, and kale. Non-perishable staples range from peanut butter to whole-wheat pasta and beans.
Martha’s Markets program began in 2011 as a result of a partnership with the Target Foundation’s Meals for Minds program. Martha’s Markets are currently run in 7 elementary schools, two community centers, and at Martha’s Table, where the market is open to students and families in the Martha’s Table Healthy Start and Healthy Connections programs.
At the pop-up Martha’s Markets, families select from fresh, seasonal produce and healthy pantry staples at no cost every month. The markets also include chef-led culinary demonstrations designed to spread the joy of healthy eating.
Joyful Food Markets started in 2016 in partnership with the Capital Area Food bank. The purpose of the Joyful Food Markets is to increase access to and encourage consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables east of the Anacostia River. Joyful Food Markets are run exclusively in elementary schools. You can find a list of those elementary schools on the Martha’s Table website.