On a typical Saturday in Hunting Park, it’s much easier to satisfy one’s hunger with a cheesesteak, a piece of pizza or french fries than it is to find fresh fruits, organic vegetables, and homemade baked goods and preserves.
However, for the second summer in a row, the farmers’ market on Old York Road in Hunting Park is giving residents the opportunity to purchase spinach and carrots instead of soda and candy.
The market, which opened on June 2 and closes in November, is sponsored by The Food Trust. Founded in 1992, this nonprofit organization is diligently working to put an end to Philadelphia’s fast-food culture by promoting the importance of nutrition, increasing the availability of fresh food, and educating adults and children about the health risks of a poor and unbalanced diet.
“People want fresh fruits and vegetables,” Hunting Park resident Sharon Whaley said. “I have a lot of people in these blocks that have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and they weren’t getting what they needed.”
The Food Trust’s programs include the opening and financing of local supermarkets, such as the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative; increasing access to healthier food options in corner stores, such as the Healthy Corner Store Initiative; as well as providing farmers’ markets in as many Philadelphia neighborhoods as possible.
“In addition to bringing in fresh fruits and vegetables into over 600 corner stores all around Philadelphia,” 26-year-old Food Trust employee Mukethe Kawinzi said, “We’re working to bring more supermarkets into underserved neighborhoods.”
These farmers’ markets have been overwhelmingly popular, partly due to The Food Trust’s tendency to work with the locals on both a financial and educational level. This includes the acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [formerly known as the Food Stamp Program] at the markets, in addition to the creation of the Philly Food Bucks program. This gives residents $2 in coupons for every $5 they spend at any of the 30 markets in or around the city.
“We had about 600,000 people come to our markets last year,” Kawinzi said, “and out of all of them, [Hunting Park] was one of the strongest.”
Thanks to The Food Trust and its pledge to bring nutritious food to the neighborhood, an average Saturday in Hunting Park is a little greener.