This week, as we continue to celebrate the power of “we” to build well-being, our spotlight falls on the collaborative work that Wello (started under the name Live54218) has undertaken with community partners to make it possible for FoodShare users to shop at local Farmers Markets. Farmers markets enhance community well-being by connecting people to a shared, outdoor activity centered around the purchase of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The Greater Green Bay community has embraced the markets’ ability to bring folks together, making markets about more than just local produce – offering amenities like free yoga classes, live music and entertainment and, at four area markets, the ability for FoodShare users to use their benefit dollars to shop with local market vendors.
In addition, our coalition of partners includes UW Extension, the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Brown County (ADRC) and WIC of Brown County and Casa Alba, who strive to make markets as inclusive and accessible as possible. This includes the role of the Community Connector, funded by UW Extension, who spends time engaging in small group education sessions and one-on-one “chats” at the markets, educating individuals about the “where and when” of local produce shopping, as well as letting them know they can use their Foodshare dollars and how to take advantage of Double Your Bucks incentives.
And other community partners have chipped in to make this effort a big success. Double Your Bucks (DYB), a program sponsored by Hospital Sisters Health Systems (HSHS) since 2015, adds an incentive for FoodShare users to take advantage of markets, by providing Foodshare users up to $10 in matching dollars to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. Market managers at On Broadway Inc., Market on Military, Oneida Farmers Market and Downtown Green Bay Inc.’s Saturday Market continue to embrace and support the Foodshare and DYB programs, which together inject about $20,000 annually into the local economy through local market vendors.
Programs like this one demonstrate the power of aligning around equity to create greater prosperity in our community.