Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, is Lack of constant access to enough food for an active and healthy life. In Georgia, according to Feeding America, 12% of the population was food insecure in 2019 This number has increased dramatically after the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 58% increase in children’s food insecurity. During the heart of the pandemic, the United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to invest significant money in agencies that were providing emergency food aid and to increase food access across the Metro area. Now that we are no longer on the emerging side of the pandemic, United Way continues to focus on ways to improve food access through investments in economic stability through the Basic Needs and Equitable Access pathway.
In our latest work 2022 Child Welfare Request for ProposalsWe invested in agencies that work to increase access to affordable, healthy food in low to very low communities child well-being. These are the communities that are also often considered “food deserts”, meaning that there is a shortage of affordable, nutritious food that is easily accessible to the population. Community Farmers Markets (CFM), one of the newest grant recipients, has taken an innovative and collaborative approach to accessing food through MARTA markets The program that sells local products at transit stations in partnership with MARTA. According to Lauren Wood, CFM’s MARTA Market Director, these markets have become a “vital resource for the community, providing more than 250,000 pounds of fresh food to more than 180,000 customers” since their inception in 2015. Not only do these markets provide access to healthy food in convenient locations, but they also double the value of SNAP/EBT benefits for low-income individuals and families. In this way, markets not only contribute to the health of customers by providing fresh fruits and vegetables, but also address the financial stability of families by helping to increase the value of public goods.
MARTA Markets has expanded to DeKalb County this year, and Ms. Wood said, “The United Way Funding for Greater Atlanta will allow us to complete a new kiosk at Kensington Station, which is scheduled to open in August. Between Kensington and the recently opened site in Doraville Station, we expect to increase food access. fresh food to more than 2,500 people in those communities by the end of 2023.”
We at United Way are proud to partner with Community Farmers Markets in this effort that will help create a more food-secure Atlanta area. We hope you’ll take the time to visit one of your 6 – soon to be 7 –Locations This summer for some fresh, local and affordable food.