MARTA has been taking steps to help people who live in food deserts have easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables, while saving money. Ashley Williams, a MARTA Market community partner said their goal is to “let them (the community) know they have other options than prices that are high at places like Publix and Kroger.”
According to the American Nutrition Association, a food desert is defined as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods.” Areas around the Five Points station, the West End, H.E. Holmes, Bankhead and College Park are examples of food deserts.
Each station listed above has a market open on a different day of the week, with West End on Tuesdays, H.E. Holmes and Bankhead open on Wednesdays, College Park on Thursdays, and Five Points on Fridays. The markets are all open from 3pm to 7pm on their specific days.
They have partnered with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Community Farmers Market to provide the food. Myeisha Coggins, one of the people working on the markets said they are working to let people know that “local and especially organic food is important, the fresher it is the more nutrients is has and in terms of it being organic, It’s not touched with pesticides. We are trying to raise awareness about organic and local food and were really trying to show people what it looks like.”
Williams believes it is important people are surrounded by fresh food because it can influence their diet. For example, Williams explained that if all anyone saw was fast food billboards, that is what they would gravitate to. Having markets around the city gives people more exposure to healthier options.
The markets have partnered with Wholesome Wave GA to connect dietitians with the community and prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables in place of other medications. This also allows them to connect with Open Hand Atlanta and Cooking Matters to provide cooking classes and give vouchers up to $40 to families in need.
In an attempt to help people save money, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ) and EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) allow people to get twice the value as they would in other places. For example, you could buy something worth $4 for $2. Ashley Williams, another woman working to make the markets successful said, “Children come by and see bananas, apples and other fruit, they’re automatically drawn to that which brings the parents over… Sometimes when we see children and their parents say ‘oh we can’t get that’ we just give it to them, just to be engaging with the community.”
The markets are open from now until December, support the markets to help lower the number of people affected by food deserts in Georgia!