Chesterfield, MA – A new Hilltown Mobile Market will be opening this summer, thanks to a collaborative effort between Healthy Hampshire, Hilltown Community Development, the Hilltown Community Health Center, and several Hilltown farms. The Mobile Market—which will visit sites in Huntington and Worthington—will run for 10 weeks from July 25th through September 27th. Everyone is welcome to shop for fresh produce from 3 – 5 pm on Thursdays at the Maples Senior Housing in Worthington or from 3 – 5 pm on Fridays on the Stanton Hall Green in Huntington. Fresh, Hilltown-grown vegetables will be available to purchase using cash, credit, debit, SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Coupons. For more information about the Mobile Market project, visit hilltownmobilemarket.info.
The Hilltown Mobile Market model was born out of several community conversations in which Hilltown residents and organizational partners discussed ways to improve nutrition and food security in the Hilltowns. Residents shared the challenges of accessing fresh produce in the Hilltowns, such as long travel distances to sources of fresh food and the lack of outlets to use nutrition benefits like the Healthy Incentives Program. Although the Hilltowns are home to a number of family farms and farm stands, until recently, there were no farmers market or farm stands that accepted SNAP (food stamps) in the 12 Hilltowns served by Healthy Hampshire. People who are enrolled in SNAP also qualify for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), which gives SNAP customers a $40-$80 reimbursement for the purchase of fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture operations, and mobile markets. With no HIP-certified retailer in the Hilltowns, Hilltown residents were at a disadvantage in accessing local produce to improve nutrition and food security.
In late 2018, Healthy Hampshire was awarded a two-year grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office that funded a partnership with Hilltown Community Development and the Hilltown Community Health Center to address these challenges through a pilot Hilltown Mobile Market program.
The weekly Mobile Market will have a diverse array of fresh vegetables, greens, and fruit from several Hilltown farms including Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, Hart Farm in Conway, and Intervale Farm in Westhampton. Residents of the Hilltowns who utilize SNAP were able to pre-register to pick up a small weekly share of vegetables, valued at $175 for the season, and be 100% reimbursed through the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). Limited grant-subsidized farm shares were available this year, but Everyone is welcome to shop for fresh produce from 3 – 5 pm on Thursdays at the Maples Senior Housing in Worthington or from 3 – 5 pm on Fridays on the Stanton Hall Green in Huntington.
The Market was created in partnership with the newly-formed Hilltown Food Council, comprised of Hilltown residents and agency representatives, who oversaw the design and development of the Mobile Market. Patty Kimura, an Administrator at The Maples, is excited about the Hilltown Mobile Market because it will “open up opportunities for both our local farmers and for the elderly for whom it is often difficult to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.” She also has seen a benefit to the people living at The Maples, who are part of the Hilltown Food Council, in providing opportunities to be more involved in the Hilltown community. Pat Daviau, representing Blandford Council of Aging on the Hilltown Food Council, expresses her excitement about the mobile market, stating that “the mobile market means that finally the Hilltown people will have access to fresh local veggies for all ages and income levels.”
Kim Savery of the Hilltown Community Health Center believes that this program will help improve the health of many Hilltown residents: “Eating these fresh vegetables from the mobile market can contribute to the health of many Hilltown residents, particularly those who are interested in improving their heart health and preventing diabetes.”
The Hilltown Mobile Market program aims to improve nutrition and increase food security of Hilltown residents while also supporting the local agricultural economy. Healthy Hampshire, Hilltown Community Development, and the Hilltown Community Health Center invite all Hilltown residents to shop at the Hilltown Mobile Market, support Hilltown farms, and enjoy delicious Hilltown-grown produce this summer.