An Update on our Community Market Pilot Project
This past summer, FareStart launched a pilot community-based mobile market with the hope of finding, “new ways to provide equitable access to fresh, healthy food to communities who are underserved, including those who have been impacted by systemic racism in food systems.” The market provides fresh produce, pantry items and other staples free to the public. It leverages high quality food that is gathered, gleaned and purchased from food partners, including local farmers, grocers, retail stores and donors.
During this pilot phase, we have been collecting feedback through third-party surveys and analyzing the data, allowing us to learn and adapt as we continue to understand the needs of the community. The results are informing our longer-term strategic priorities around food security. A key takeaway we have learned is that community members who attended markets especially valued the high-quality produce items and appreciated the accessibility walking from their community to the market.
Recently, through the WSDA We Feed Washington Pilot Food Program we began expanding our mobile market pilot to include food boxes and grocery kits that we're distributing to Afghan refugees, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). We also have been working in conjunction with the YMCA to have up to 200 produce boxes packed and distributed each week. In addition, FareStart has been taking part in the YMCA’s market pop-ups for their Y on the Fly program. This fall we participated in YES Fest and worked alongside the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and Neighborhood House. Since the pilot began, we have partnered with King County Housing Authority and Kent Youth and Family Services in Kent, Shoreline and Auburn. Currently we are partnering with Neighborhood House, YMCA, and Seattle Indian Health Board. We look forward to continuing this work through local events and partnerships. We are continuing to learn about culturally appropriate food and produce to provide to community members.
Next year, we are hoping to begin exploring potential student training opportunities within the market environment. We are continuing to build and establish new relationships and partnerships with local farmers for the next growing season. Together, with the support of volunteers and partnerships with local organizations and farms, we will be able to serve larger communities and support the FareStart mission to transform lives, disrupt poverty and nourish communities. We also are hoping to expand the number of locations the pilot community market visits next season to increase food provided to the local residents.
We’re incredibly grateful to our volunteers, staff, partners and community members for their continued support of this pilot community-based mobile market. FareStart is looking forward to continue learning and adapting this program as we better understand the needs of the community. See how you can get involved through volunteering here.