Although Pompano Beach is home to one of twelve State Farmers Markets in Florida, it is not benefitting the people who need it the most: those citizens working & living in the area in what amounts to a ‘food desert’.
Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
RMA is now working to change that by researching the viability of creating a permanent green market, in conjunction with the state market, which would be accessible to all.
“I recently attended the National Association of Produce Market Managers conference to learn about the State Farmers Markets history and how we can change the ‘food desert’ that is affecting some of our residents,” said Shanna Benson, RMA Special Events and Marketing Manager/ City of Pompano Beach CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency).
Pompano Beach’s state market is where produce from throughout the state is housed, labeled, and then distributed throughout the nation. However, the workers who service this process live in areas where there is limited or no access to full-service grocery stores and healthy options.
“Our goal is to work with the Florida Department of Agriculture to devise a plan that will allow a retail market inside the state market, that will accept SNAP and EBT, allowing all of our residents to enjoy fresh options and a healthier lifestyle,” continued Benson.
More than 25 million units of fresh fruits and vegetables valued at more than $225 million are annually sold through the markets. Nearly a billion units of fresh fruits and vegetables valued at more than $5.5 billion have been sold through the State Farmers Markets since the first one opened in 1935.