Food Desert Incentive Program

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2012 Univera Healthcare Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market

JAMESTOWN – A portion of the $10,000 that the Univera Healthcare Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market (DJFM) received through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Fresh Connect Grant are being used to enhance access to healthy foods for over 2,000 low income residents of the city.  These funds are now promoting the Food Desert Incentive Program, using existing transportation services through the food deserts to the DJFM to increase access to fresh produce to these residents

Two census blocks in the City of Jamestown are identified as “food deserts” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  They define a “food desert” as being at least 500 persons and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract’s population live more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (www.ams.usd.gov). The first tract, #301 has 725 people with low access and the second tract, #306 contains 1,356 people with low access (www.ers.usda.gove/data/fooddesert/).

The program will be using existing transportation services through Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System (CARTS) to give access to residents living in “food deserts” to/from the existing DJFM.  Volunteers have personally delivered door-hangers door-to-door through each of the food deserts explaining and promoting the program.

Each door-hanger contains a free bus ride to the market, where riders can shop for local produce and then receive a free ticket to ride the bus home.  While at the market, program participants will have the opportunity to purchase a 10-trip ticket at a discounted rate of $10, a savings of $5, to use for future trips to the market.  CARTS is currently promoting the ridership program via two buses that travel through each “food desert” and on their city schedule maps.  Children 5 and under ride for free through CARTS busing.

Volunteers will be going out again to continue distributing door-hangers, but those who have not received theirs and want to participate immediately can contact DJDC at 664-2477, ext 226.

“We are really encouraging those individuals living in the food deserts to take advantage of this program, as this is the main focus for the grant funds we have received,” said Tiffani Conti, DJDC Special Projects Manager.  “The purpose is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to local families and these funds have allowed us to implement a program at little to no cost to the residents. Even if you choose to not use the transportation portion, feel free to shop and at the market and submit the bottom section for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the market!”

The Kids! Eat Local Challenge will continue through the market season with winners drawn on Friday, October 5th.  Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. This challenge is a fun contest that encourages kids to eat local. There are nine different tasks available and each entry must complete a minimum of four tasks to enter the drawing. Participation forms can be found at the weekly market or online at www.discoverjamestown.com.

The market continues to operate every Friday from 10am-3pm in Foundry Alley next to the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center withKen Hardley this week’s entertainment from 12pm-1pm.

The Rocket Man of Centi Astro-Space Activities will have a table set-up druing the market demonstrating some of the activities which are part of the mini-space camps he is offering in August.  The space camps include: DESTINATION MARS: CURIOSITY ROVER and COMETS, ASTEROIDS & METEORS.  These camps are for children ages 8 – 13.  Parents are also invited to attend.  Destination Mars is celebrating the August 6th landing of the Mars Science Laboratory in the Gale Crater on the red planet.  The Comets camp will include a field trip to view the Perseid meteor shower.  The Perseids occur every August with a peak on August 11th and 12th.  Flyers for these camps will be handed out.  Anyone wishing to register can do so during the market.

This week the market will feature kale, tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries, fresh flowers and herbs, onions, garlic, carrots, beets, cauliflower, lettuce, summer squash, collards, potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, fresh-frozen meats, cheese, goat milk fudge, and homemade baked goods including pies, pastries, breads, and cookies.

Vendors accept WIC and senior farmers market coupons, cash, and check. EBT, credit, and debit cards are also accepted at the market information booth.

Food vendors include Elegant Edibles Catering along with Big Pitt’s BBQ.  Uncle J’s Vanilla sells vanilla spices and other cooking items in addition to natural home care products that are Natural Products Association Certified and natural personal care products. The market will feature a new vendor, Sr. Jorita’s Breads, which will carry artisan breads, cookies, cakes, and pies.

Free parking is available along West Third Street and in the parking lot on the corner of West Second and Washington Streets.  Enter the parking lot via Foundry Alley where the market operates.

The annual Farmer’s Market Community Day will be held on Friday, August 31st from 10am-3pm providing an array of free activities for local families and youth.  Some of the activities include the Jamestown Pediatric 1K Kids Run (registration forms available online), agriculture and milking cow display, Masonic Safety ID Program, petting zoo, magician, and JJ Jingles the Clown.

Local organizations interested in setting up a free activity, or an informational booth, are asked to contact DJDC at 664-2477.  Items are also being collected for children’s goodie bags.

“The market is not just an event but an experience,” added Conti. “We invite everyone to visit the market and purchase fresh, local produce as there is nothing like it.  Our vendors are here to help those who are unsure how to store and prepare specific products. Bring your questions and they will be happy to help you enjoy locally grown produce.”

For more information call DJDC at 664-2477 or visit www.discoverjamestown.com.