January 23rd, 2013
Food Culture – Indianapolis Winter Farmers Market
IWFM at the City Market
Indy’s food culture and food community are growing steadily. In just a few short years, we have seen the opening of a cooperative grocery, watched the growth of farmers markets, celebrated restaurants who source locally, and developed unprecedented community support models for local food projects. It’s a great time to be a food lover in Indianapolis.
The Indy Winter Farmers Market (IWFM) is one place where we invite our neighbors to connect with their local producers. We created this market specifically to serve downtown and the neighborhoods of Indianapolis. We started small, just 20 some vendors, and we’ve since grown to over 60 vendors each year. It’s encouraging to see such support for Indiana’s farmers and artisans from the community. We’ve developed partnerships that allow us to continue bringing the community more of the good food that nourishes mind and body.
There are, however, some people we have difficulty reaching, partnerships or not. For many people the market is a key reason why they get up in the morning during winter – but many more do not have this. In particular, we have a hard time reaching those with low food access. You may have heard of a food desert before, and they exist in Indianapolis. Check out this map if you are wondering if your neighborhood might be included. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-desert-locator.aspx
Low food access means that you can’t walk to the grocery store. It means food choices are limited. It means lots of processed foods from nearby corner stores, and not a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why the IWFM plays such a vital role in creating healthy food culture.
One of our goals for starting this market was to increase good food access in our community. We are bringing high quality food to Indianapolis and we want to make sure every citizen and resident has the opportunity to have this good food. One way we are trying to increase access is by accepting food stamps (SNAP Benefits/EBT).
We began accepting food stamps last season, and have been fortunate enough this year to partner with Chipotle to match SNAP purchases up to $20. This has been very successful so far this season, and we’ve had over $800 spent in SNAP purchases this season alone. It’s exciting to see the progress with SNAP and the market as a whole.
At the Indianapolis Winter Farmers Market, we need your ideas to keep the momentum going. We want to know your ideas about how we can make our market – and the local food movement – more accessible. Perhaps we can partner with other community groups, do more events, change our method of outreach. We certainly aren’t the only folks passionate about this issue.
What are your ideas for increasing good food access in our community?
Molly Trueblood, the manager of the Indy Winter Farmers Market at the Platform in the West Wing of Indy City Market. A native Hoosier, Molly also works for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Indianapolis and serves on the board of INDYCOG.