Joyful Food Market

Joyful Food Markets (JFMs) are no cost farmers market-style markets held in elementary schools at dismissal for children and their families. The markets, which will be in all 49 elementary schools in Washington D.C.’s Wards 7 & 8 by the end of 2018, are designed to both increase access to healthy, high quality foods as well as encourage families to eat healthy food. The innovative, nationally significant model is rooted in data and leverages partnerships with schools, local government, the non-profit sector and the private sector to create a replicable and scalable model to address food insecurity and improve health in DC and, potentially, around the country.

DC’s Wards 7 & 8 are the most under-resourced neighborhoods in DC, with three grocery stores serving 150,000 people, 1:3 residents living in poverty and 72% of the population overweight or obese. We believe that every child deserves the opportunity for their brightest future but too often, children go to bed hungry and develop without adequate nutrition while living with the effects of obesity.

Martha’s Table, in partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, is currently operating 39 JFMs. At each market, a child receives about 15 pounds of food, of which 70% is fresh produce. Markets are staffed by a Martha’s Table Market Leader and Food Educator, and about 20 volunteers, who help from start to finish as we transform a school cafeteria into a lively farmer markets and then, two hours later, turn it back into the cafeteria. In addition to receiving healthy food, families are invited to sample a dish made with market ingredients at the Joyful Tasting Table and children are encouraged to make their own fruit or vegetable snack at the Joyful Junior Chef Table.

School children participating in a demonstration at a Joyful Food Market

Joyful Food Markets: Spreading the Joy of Healthy Eating

  • Free, healthy food that fill the gap between benefits and schools meals
  • Fun, hands-on education that makes healthy eating fun.
  • A dignified experience with a “choice” model & no lines.
  • Spreading joy at the markets with music, dancing and fun.
  • Volunteers that stand with the community.
  • Partnerships that turn markets into community events.
  • Data driven approach

What We’ve Learned

  • Before visiting a JFM, 46% of families ran out of food and didn’t have enough money to get more once or twice in the last month.
  • 72% of families receive SNAP or another government assistance program.
  • Most families cook dinner an average of five nights a week.
  • 95% of families believe that if they improve the way they eat, they will be healthier
  • Barriers to healthy eating are not a lack of knowledge, rather access, affordability, and motivation to eat better