Guest post by Sophie Miller – Serve Louisiana member
SPROUT NOLA hosts a low barrier-to-entry market in New Orleans every Monday at 2606 St. Louis Street from 3-6pm. The ReFresh Market offers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly called “food stamps” and now also known as SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits, and discounts for walking, biking, and taking public transportation to the market. There are even discounts for those who have done a gardening or nutrition course through SPROUT, or one of their partner organizations. In fact, if you attend just three free exercise classes on the Lafitte Greenway, you’ll receive a $20 voucher ($40 for SNAP) for the ReFresh market or any of the Crescent City Farmers Markets! Aside from the incentives for market-goers, there are no vendor fees which makes it a more accessible market for smaller sellers. It can thus serve as a launching point for those who want to move into larger markets, like the Crescent City Farmers Markets.
In addition to these measures, the market also has a community food access table supported by Liberty’s Kitchen, SPROUT NOLA, the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee (FPAC) (now New Orleans Food Policy Action Council), Top Box Foods Louisiana, and Recirculating Farms – collectively, the the Growing Local Collaborative. Recirculating Farms ‘ team staffs the table. At the food access table, people can ask questions about how to sign up for SNAP or WIC and coming soon , we’ll be able to directly enroll people in such programs on site! The table provides services like finding someone’s nearest food bank or community fridge and can direct people to other food support services like Cattail Cooks’ Mutual Aid Box, which serves for 4-5 people (contact 504-535-5064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries), or the Growing Local bag, a subsidized locally-sourced food bag offered by Recirculating Farms and distributed by Top Box Foods that serves 1-3 people a week fruits and vegetables, eggs, and an additional surprise lagniappe item, like jam, salsa, pesto, herbs, and other fun surprises.
The Collaborative has plans to expand the food access table to other markets too. If you are interested in using the flyers we distribute at the ReFresh market you can check them out here! Or, if you’re interested in having a food access “consultant” work at your market, contact Sophie. In the meantime, stop by the ReFresh Market and visit her at the Food Access Table! She can directly give you flyers which detail information on school meals, government assistance, food access for seniors, food pantries, mutual aid groups, and more! Ask her questions about shopping on a budget or signing up for federal support programs. If you aren’t able to make it to the market, shoot her an email or leave her a voicemail at 504-408-1133 and she will work with you to answer your questions.
The latest victory for the ReFresh Market was the extension of the UNLIMITED market match program through the end of June 2021. This means that if a SNAP participant purchases $40 worth of fruit, vegetables, and food-bearing plant starts, they will receive an additional $40 worth of food. Read more about what this means for consumers here.
New Orleans Community Fridges (NOCF) emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. As unemployment rates surged, residents recognized the need to better support neighbors immediately without the need to deal with assorted challenges that can be associated with programs like SNAP or WIC. NOCF is a collective effort to strengthen community care and trust. There are no questions asked when taking food from a community fridge, and aside from raw meat, everything is welcome at the fridges if you’d like to donate.
Community fridge locations in New Orleans as of March 2021