By Nina Burke, Somerville Homeless Coalition
The theme of Food Day 2015, ‘toward a greener diet,’ means a little something different to everyone. Something great about having a broad theme means that Food Day can meet Somerville residents where they are at in their food journey. For some, the concept of a greener diet may be new, for others old news, and for some it may seem like an unaffordable and unattainable goal. The socio, cultural, and economic diversity of Somerville inherently makes eating greener diet different for every household, and that is something to be celebrated. It is also important that we recognize the importance of making a greener diet accessible and affordable to all of the residents of our City.
According to 2013 Census data, 15% of Somerville residents live below the poverty line and approximately 30% of Somerville residents fall into the category of “working poor” (Well-being report). With households spending an increasingly high percentage of income on rent, purchasing local, fresh food regularly can be a budget stretch.
Shopping local and fresh is becoming more accessible for residents of all income levels due to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) match program at local markets. The Union Square and Assembly Row Farmers’ Markets accept EBT cards and SNAP users receive a $1-to-$1 match up to $10 each week on purchases (so you can get $20 of produce for $10). The Somerville Mobile Farmers’ Markets offers a $1-$1 match with no spending limit for all customers using EBT, WIC, senior nutrition coupon, or are housing development residents! Of course trade-offs must be made when grocery shopping on a tight budget. You often have to choose between buying more less-local produce for a better price than the local farmers’ market counterpart. It’s important to recognize that vegetables are still vegetables and eating non-local, less expensive vegetables is better than no veggies at all!
Access to fresh, local, and affordable food should remain a high priority in our City as there is much work to be done to ensure equal access.
Tips for Eating Green for Less $$
- The SNAP cookbook, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 A Day has some tasty suggestions for all income levelshttps://8b862ca0073972f0472b704e2c0c21d0480f50d3.googledrive.com/host/0Bxd6wdCBD_2tdUdtM0d4WTJmclU/good-and-cheap.pdf
- Take a brief tour around the farmers’ market before purchasing anything. Compare the prices and quantities and figure out what produce will stretch the furthest.
- Try new veggies! See what’s on sale at the markets and grocery stores and work it into your meal
- Try this budget worksheet created by the Somerville Food Security Coalition:http://somervillefoodsecurity.org/resources/food-planning/
- If you have kids, get them involved in choosing the ‘green’ produce item for the meal
Somerville Farmers’ Markets:
Union Square: Saturdays 9 am-1 pm (through mid-November)
Assembly Square: Sundays 10:30 am-2:30 pm
Somerville Mobile Market (through October 31st):
– Fridays 11 am-12:30 pm Council on Aging
– Fridays 2 pm-3:30 pm Winter Hill Community Innovation School
– Saturdays 11 am-12:30 pm North Street Housing Development
– Saturdays 1 pm-3:00 pm Mystic Housing Development
Davis Square: Wednesdays 12pm-6pm (through 11/25)
The Greater Boston Food Bank also hosts a farmers’ market style distribution of free food at Clarendon Hill Towers once per month. Click here for the schedule.
The Well-Being of Somerville Report