Fondy Farmers’ Market, operated by Fondy Food Center, Inc. (FFC), is located in Milwaukee’s Near North Side, a neighborhood with high concentrations of hunger and poverty. Food pantries repre¬sent one of few sources of food for neighborhood residents. Fresh produce is sold in only a handful of grocery stores and according to Executive Director Young Kim, “residents do not have transportation to get to these stores.” To help provide a solution to this community’s food insecurity, the Fondy Farmers’ Market sells local, healthy produce and through a series of events, Fondy teaches community members to prepare and consume healthy food.
Fondy has been successful due to partnerships and an aggressive educational campaign. The market has partnered with the local WIC office to distribute information– and to inform the community that the market accepts SNAP/food stamps, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons. In 2007, it distributed 25 sets of DVDs on nutrition and healthy cooking to WIC offices in the area. It also produced six half-hour cooking shows on the local access television station and held cooking demonstra¬tions at neighboring food pantries. The market even distributed pots, pans and cooking utensils to customers who lacked adequate cookware. To make the program more effective, market representatives exchanged information and coordinated events such as health fairs and walking clubs with other public health organizations working in the area.
Beyond providing educational materials, Fondy seeks to solve the lack of healthy food by getting the community involved. According to Kim, “[increasing food access] is a matter of finding lead¬ers… as opposed to imposing a top-down method” of service provision. In 2008, Fondy hired a chef from the community and recipes for distribution were collected from community members to help make the cooking demonstrations more welcoming and effective. As a result, the Near North Side community not only has access to fresh food, but it has the tools and knowledge to benefit from it.