Fresh fruits and vegetables just became more accessible for families on the east side of Frederick with the opening of Produce in a SNAP, a pop-up market offering fresh food at an affordable price.
Produce in a SNAP operates 20 locations in Baltimore and uses the money from sales to purchase more produce in a self-sustaining loop. On Thursday, the program will expand to Frederick and begin selling produce at the Lucas Village community room.
“This kind of packaging of health is a great way to start the new year,” said Ann Ryan, director of family services at Lucas Village.
As the name suggests, the program is aimed at getting fresh produce to those who qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. But the produce will be available for purchase to anyone who visits the market.
Each bag of fresh produce costs $7 and includes a mix of vegetables and fruits.
Those who shop at the market will be able to pay with cash, debit card, credit card or SNAP and supplemental nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits.
The nonprofit Housing Authority of the City of Frederick — which operates Lucas Village — was initially unsure it could bring the program to its property, because it did not have an EBT-card reader to accept federal benefits. But Hungry Harvest, the parent company of Produce in a SNAP, donated a card reader to the site, Ryan said.
Lucas Village houses low- and moderate-income families near the Frederick Fairgrounds. There is no grocery store within walking distance of the community, and some residents rely on frozen meals due to limited access and the cost of fresh food, housing coordinators previously told The Frederick News-Post.
“It’s all a win-win for us,” Ryan said. “The residents will have access to more fresh vegetables.”
Ten residents will also have the opportunity to learn how to prepare the fruits and vegetables they buy at the market. Immediately after the market, Lucas Village will host its Community Table cooking class.
Residents sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, but the Housing Authority plans to complete the four-month cooking program with three groups this year, Ryan said.
The Produce in a SNAP market will be held every Thursday at the Lucas Village community room and produce will change weekly. Mayor Michael O’Connor was invited to attend the first market on Thursday to cut a ceremonial ribbon and make some remarks.
O’Connor said expanding downtown grocery opportunities and ensuring development on the east side of the city were among his priorities.
“Our sustainability plan, which I supported as Alderman, has a food and nutrition element. It would be my goal to continue to support the policy initiatives necessary to assist its implementation,” O’Connor said by email on Monday.
Stacy Carroll, director of sales and partnerships for Hungry Harvest, said in an email that the market hopes to expand to include bread, eggs and other pantry staples in the future.
“We hope all Frederick residents will join us especially through the winter when Farmers Markets are closed for their fresh produce needs,” Carroll said.