Have you heard about Martha’s Table, the Capital Area Food Bank’s food assistance partner that provides healthy food, affordable clothing, and quality education to DC residents? Headquartered on 14th Street in Northwest DC, the organization takes innovative approaches to addressing hunger as evidenced in its healthy grocery markets, named Martha’s Markets, in eight elementary schools in the District and Prince Georges County where at least 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Martha’s Table’s latest program, in collaboration with Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, is a weekly summer mobile farm-market for underserved families with children at those same schools. At the Martha’s Table-Arcadia roving market, families choose from a variety of free and for-sale farm-fresh produce from Arcadia’s farms and shelf-stable foods that are, primarily, from the Capital Area Food Bank. Market-goers can also enjoy cooking demonstrations, information and tastings.
What you may not realize is that beyond the summer, the CAFB provides most of the food that Martha’s Table distributes, making it possible for Martha’s Markets to reach as many families in DC as possible. The food bank provided over 25,000 pounds of free fresh produce to Martha’s Table throughout the 2013-2014 school year, saving the organization an estimated $26,000. Through the CAFB’s administering of the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program in DC, Martha’s Table received over 110,000 pounds of food—from frozen chicken to fresh tomatoes to dry cereal—free of charge during the past school year.
The food bank addresses hunger in the Washington area through its network of 500 food assistance partners. Many of these partners pick up food at the CAFB’s distribution center to serve clients in their own pantries, in sites that range from churches to residential buildings. Martha’s Table, however, takes their show on the road and the food bank actually delivers directly to their Martha’s Markets to make their efforts possible.
“Our vibrant partnership with CAFB has allowed our Martha’s Markets to double the number of families we serve in the District and PG County this year,” says Martin Booker, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Martha’s Table. “It is a testament to CAFB’s tenacity and creativity in sourcing that our families can take home grocery bags filled with as much as 40 percent of fresh produce each month. CAFB’s donations also help us provide more healthful meals to our after-school and early-childhood education students and McKenna’s Wagon customers.”
With strong leadership from President and CEO Patty Stonesifer and Booker, the food bank is working alongside Martha’s Table to strengthen the hunger safety net, together, across the Washington metro area. The operation of Martha’s Markets in eight high-need DC schools coupled with the CAFB’s Family Markets, helps to ensure that every DC family has access to nutritious ingredients, no matter their means. –Kirsten Bourne, Director of Partners & Programs Engagement
In this column, we share the stories of our food service partners. Each year, the Capital Area Food Bank distributes over 30 million pounds of food through direct distributions and a network of more than 500 partner agencies throughout the Washington metro area, serving over 400,000 people struggling with hunger.