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DC Farmers’ Market Hosts National Farmers Week Festivities

On August 4, the farmers' market by the White House was bustling with individuals celebrating World Breastfeeding Week and National Farmers Market Week. The festival’s purpose was to recognize the value of farmers' markets and the role that nutritious fruits and vegetables play in promoting wellness.

The event featured the dedication of a new USDA-funded Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) mobile clinic. The District of Columbia uses the mobile clinic to travel to medically underserved areas and provide services to nearby residents. Mobile clinics are an important part of increasing access to services like nutrition assistance.

District of Columbia WIC Director Gloria Clark talks about DC’s new mobile WIC clinic which will travel to underserved parts of the city to provide needed services.

The highlight of the festival was the Baby Vegetable and Fruit Costume Contest, modeled by children from local daycare centers. The two kids who dressed up dazzled the audience in their turnip and coconut costumes. The winning daycare center won a month’s supply of produce from a local farmer.

The speakers at the event, Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at USDA, and Dr. Richard Levinson, the Interim Deputy Director of the DC Health Department, made a point to emphasize the importance of the day.  Concannon encouraged the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC benefits at farmers markets as a great way of getting low income families access to healthy, locally-grown food.

(from left to right) FNS Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Pat Dombroski, FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, Interim Deputy Director of the District of Columbia Health Department (DOH), and Michele Tingling-Clemmons, Bureau Chief for Nutrition and Physical Fitness Programs in DOH, took a moment to pose for the camera before the festival began.

At the end of fiscal year 2010, 1,611 direct marketing farmers and markets were authorized to accept SNAP, a 263% increase over the past 5 fiscal years. That means that great strides are being made with the help of companies like FRESHFARM Markets, which runs the Farmers Market by the White House.

FRESHFARM Markets owns 11 farmers markets in the Chesapeake Bay region that are all producer-only. This mean means that farmers and producers may sell only what they grow, raise, or make on their own farms. The farmers and producers are generally from the Chesapeake Bay watershed and within a 150-mile radius of Washington, DC. The markets feature renowned chefs, cookbook authors, and passionate home cooks, who celebrate cooking with the seasonal foods in the region.

It was fitting FRESHFARM markets hosted the festivities since part of their mission is to help make local and fresh produce available to all people, regardless of income. The festivities marked a wonderful summer afternoon that brought together government officials, farmers, parents, and children alike to celebrate the value of healthy food and living.