The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Mobile farmers market promotes healthy communities

The Adams County Farmers Market is on the move to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in more communities.

These community stands, or mobile markets, have popped up in neighborhoods so more residents, some of whom do not have access to transportation, can purchase fresh, locally grown produce close to home.

"It's another way of providing food for those who are food insecure and making it available to them," said Kathy Gaskin, executive director, Healthy Adams County.

Through the Healthy Adams County coalition, WellSpan is supporting programs that help families obtain healthy foods. One of five county health coalitions backed by WellSpan, Healthy Adams County is helping residents of lower income and underserved neighborhoods also gain access to the resources available through the Adams County Farmers Market.

At the mobile markets, community members who qualify for assistance may register for vouchers through the Farmer's Market Nutrition Program, where they can be used at the mobile markets and at the Adams County Farmer's Market throughout the growing season.

In some cases, many first learn about the programs through the mobile market, Gaskin added.

"Our farmers market doubles the values," she explained.  "The state gives them $24 for the entire season and we double that so they have up to up to $48 to spend."

In addition, residents who qualify for other state and federal assistance, like SNAP and WIC, may also redeem those vouchers or debit cards at the market. In doing so, many of these benefits are also doubled to stretch their food dollars.

WellSpan patients who participate in WellSpan Market Bucks may also redeem those at the markets as well.  Market Bucks is a food voucher program where WellSpan provides qualifying lower income patients with "bucks" to exchange for fruits and vegetables at participating farm markets across the region.

More than just a produce stand

The mobile market also features activities that bring community members together and provides something for everyone. From basic produce that's in season, like local tomatoes, cucumbers, and fruit, to asparagus and broccoli, organic vegetables, and microgreens, the vendors supply many options available for purchase.

This summer, the mobile markets also provided food and resources to nearly 200 residents of a lower income residential community in Gettysburg and a senior housing community in McSherrystown. 

In June, families who live in the Misty Ridge neighborhood in Gettysburg were treated an evening with the mobile market, where they could not only purchase fresh foods from about eight local vendors but also participate in activities and gift card giveaways as well.

In McSherrrystown, 10 vendors were on hand to provide healthy food options for seniors at St Joseph Village and residents in neighboring communities. They were also treated to box lunches, games like "Broccoli BINGO," and more giveaways.

"It's good for the local farmers, it's good for feeding the insecure, and it's an all-around good thing," Gaskin said.