Food Justice is Fresh Local Food for All

What is food justice and what does it look like? Montavilla Farmers Market in southeast Portland tries to answer this question in positive ways each year. Food justice ensures that our neighbors with limited incomes also have access to the same high quality foods as those who can afford to buy it.

This short video, produced by Montavilla Farmer’s Market last year, sums it up beautifully. “Food justice is the idea that farmers are paid a fair price for their product and that everybody, no matter what their socio-economic status can afford healthy fruits and vegetables.”

Last year volunteers of the Montavilla Farmers Market put this inspiring video together and continues to use it to inform the community of food justice issues and one market’s simple solution for expanding access to local foods for those on a limited budget.

The Montavilla Farmers Market has provided fresh fruit and vegetables and locally produced foods to a diverse family neighborhood in southeast Portland since 2007. The market provides economic opportunity for small businesses and farmers, along with a sense of community and more sustainable livelihoods to local residents.

Each year the market volunteers, staff and Board of Directors takes on the huge task of raising another large pot of money to ensure everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of socio-economic status, has access to the fresh local fruits and vegetables sold at the market each Sunday. (Incidentally the market runs from early May through the end of October and also has several winter markets just about every month until spring opening).

food justice is fresh local foods

For the coming season Montavilla Farmers Market needs to raise $13,000 to continue the Everybody Eats program in 2017. Everybody Eats supplements the market’s shopping budgets of SNAP participants (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as food stamps) by matching dollar-for-dollar individual expenditures at the market (up to $10 per shopper) each week. The $13,000 raised would enable continuation of the food stamp equal match program. Essentially the SNAP match increases purchasing power for low-income shoppers by another $10 to spend each week on fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables.

Last summer I wrote about a fundraising event called Empty Bowls which enabled the Montavilla Farmer’s Market to raise the extra dollars needed for the Everybody Eats program in 2016. Empty Bowls successfully raised the money needed to receive a matching amount from the Double Up Food Bucks, a grant from the Farmers Market Fund.

The Everybody Eats program is a food justice solution. Funding raised opens up the market to a diverse community of shoppers and ensures equal access to an abundance of nutritious healthy foods to all.img_5113

The money raised by Montavilla Farmer’s Market and the neighborhood (along with matching grant dollars)  made possible about $12,500 in SNAP equal match at the market for the 2016 season. This brings the total dollars provided to SNAP match shoppers to more than $42,000 since the program began in 2009.

Anyone can donate online to ensure that everybody is able to afford fresh local fruits and vegetables. Follow this link for the Everybody Eats program web page to make a donation and help make food justice a reality.


Author: Kathryn Thomsen

Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. Kathryn is a social entrepreneur, consultant, researcher, writer and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to develop climate change solutions, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.

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