By Rhonda White, MARTA Intern, Department of Communications & External Affairs
The second season of the Fresh MARTA Market kicked-off on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Five Points Station with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrated the value of the program and its convenience for MARTA customers.
The Fresh MARTA Market, which debuted in 2015, provides access to fresh, healthy and affordable produce options in a transit accessible location.
“What’s the best thing to do when you find success?” asked MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker who kicked-off the event. His answer was simple: replicate. “Customers wanted an easier means for picking up fresh produce, fruits and vegetables at their transit stations,” said Parker. “Now customers can continue doing so at three new locations.”
The event included speakers from national government agencies such as the Federal Transit Agency (FTA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Atlanta Community Foodbank and the Community Farmers Market.
One of the biggest takeaways, especially for the USDA, is learning how to duplicate and implement programs like the Fresh MARTA Market within other metropolitan cities across the region. As a means to make shopping convenient for customers, the Fresh MARTA Market also accepts payments from the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Every $1 spent at the market becomes $2 for the shopper. “SNAP redemptions through the farmers market helps sustain local economies while addressing challenges faced by underserved communities,” said USDA Southeast Regional Administrator Robin Bailey.
“I applaud MARTA’s innovation in partnering with local and community farmers to increase access to Georgia grown foods in Atlanta,” said Bailey. “Increasing the number of SNAP authorized markets, like MARTA’s Fresh Market, helps make shopping at farmers’ markets an option for all Americans.”
“We are proud to be part of the partnership that is simultaneously addressing two problems within the community: food and transportation,” said Atlanta Community Foodbank President Kyle Waide.
Hilary King, Director of Special Projects for Community Farmers Markets, highlighted the contributions the first Fresh market had on the community last year. More than 8,000 pounds of produce was sold putting more than $7,000 back into farms with close proximity to the West End Station.
“The Fresh MARTA Market is achieving two important outcomes, one of which is the expansion of food access,” said King. “Secondly, the Fresh MARTA Market is an integral part in growing a more sustainable local food economy. “
In addition to the West End Station where the Fresh MARTA Market originated, customers can now shop for healthy food options at the College Park, Five Points and H. E. Holmes stations on the following days:
“With the expansion of the Fresh MARTA Market concept, we can offer our customers an opportunity to shop for fresh produce without having to make an additional stop,” said MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker. “Our partners at the USDA and the Atlanta Community Food Bank have helped us provide another great amenity to our customers.”
The pop-up markets will be managed in partnership with Food Oasis, Community Farmers Market and the Southwest Atlanta Growers Cooperative.
Visit the MARTA website to see the full schedule for when the Fresh MARTA Market will be popping-up at a station near you.