Connecting Farmers with Consumers
Even as the number of New Jersey farmers markets has increased in recent years to meet a growing demand for fresh, locally sourced produce, many low-income consumers and neighborhoods remain underserved.
Programs created to improve food access have not always been successful. While the USDA Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides farmers market vouchers to low-income women with children, only about half of these vouchers are currently being redeemed. As a result, consumers are losing access to fresh local produce, and farmers are also losing a potential income source.
Geographer and Food Systems Professor Renata Blumberg of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies has received a two-year, $150,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for her project aimed at bridging the gap between farmers and consumers together.
“Our goal is to analyze how urban farmers markets could play a role in improving both farmers’ livelihoods and the nutrition of low-income consumers with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” explains Blumberg.
“This project will ultimately enable decision makers to formulate policies that would support rural-urban connections that both advance sustainable development in rural regions and reduce the severity of food insecurity in urban areas,” says Blumberg.