The fledgling Petworth Community Market, about to embark on its second year, joins a list of D.C. farmers markets that have begun accepting SNAP benefits, or food stamps.
Sixteen markets now accept SNAP benefits in the District, far outnumbering Virginia (seven) and Maryland (four) according to USDA records. Most D.C. markets were responsible for buying their own EBT machines, which process food stamps. Four markets were able to secure machines with USDA grant money through DC Hunger Solutions in 2008, but since then, the markets have been footing the $1,000-1,500 bill themselves.
It’s a lot of money for a new market like Petworth to come up with, particularly when organizers are still working to recruit vendors. Market chair Rob Mandle says he’s still anxious to recruit a cheese producer but getting the EBT up and running is the primary goal. A machine has been secured, but the market is holding a fundraiser Wednesday to ensure it’ll have enough cash to keep it operating all summer.
Mandle says being able to accept SNAP benefits has been a goal of the market from the onset. “We wanted to make sure we were becoming a market that represents the community,” he says. The Petworth market, which runs along 9th Street between Taylor and Upshur, is located in grocery-starved Ward 4. “It’s a very diverse community along the Georgia Avenue corridor,” Mandle adds. Attracting residents who use food stamps was an important part of the market’s vision.
In addition to accepting SNAP benefits this year, the Petworth market is also shifting hours from 3-7pm to 4-8 on Fridays. The shift to later hours came after feedback from customers. “People wanted more of a chance after they got home from work to get to the market,” he says. “Our busiest time was that last half-hour.”
The market currently boasts a modest line-up of 10 vendors, but offerings include produce, novelty cakes, bread, and a multi-faceted meat vendor. Mandle hopes to boost the number before opening at the end of the month.
The market’s fundraiser is today, May 11, from 6:30-8:30pm at Domku on Upshur Street. Features include a raffle, silent auction, drink specials and a photo portrait booth. Suggested entry donation is $10.