Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative Announces Major Health Promotion And Fresh Food Access

Press Release Dated Tuesday, July 6

The Greater Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative (DFMCC) today announced a major initiative to promote health and nutrition while expanding opportunities for families with limited resources to obtain local fresh foods.

farmersmarketfrontandbackfinal_000On July 9, the collaborative will kick off with the opening day of the season for the CityCenter Danbury Farmers’ Market.  The market is open every Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Oct. 29 in Kennedy Park at the corner of Main Street and Kennedy Avenue. The market offers Connecticut Grown fruits and vegetable from several farmers including the New Milford Youth Agency. Shoreline shellfish, fresh trout, flavored oils and other specialty food items are also available. This year, an added feature is the presence of Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance (HVCA) artists who will be participating in ‘plein air’ painting while displaying their artwork for purchase during market hours.

The collaborative is composed of more than 20 local private, public and non-profit organizations dedicated to expanding utilization of the Danbury Farmers’ Market, encouraging access to fresh foods by all members of the community and enhancing health promotion efforts to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Born out of the desire to provide equitable access to fresh fruits and vegetables for all in Danbury, promote health and nutrition, help sustain Connecticut farmers, and increase economic development downtown, the program will combine funding to enhance the purchase of healthy foods by recipients Federal food assistance programs. By accepting EBT cards for those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and providing dollar to dollar matches for those of SNAP and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition programs for WIC and Seniors, the DFMCC will enhance the purchasing power of the community’s most needy and encourage the buying of fresh fruit and vegetables. Additionally, nutrition education and health screening services will also be available to promote and reinforce the importance of making healthy choices.

CityCenter Danbury Executive Director Andrea Gartner, whose organization serves as the farmers’ market manager, stated:  “We are excited to be part of this cooperative effort that will encourage economic activity in downtown Danbury while addressing serious social and health needs in the community.  This idea started among three of us looking to really have an impact in the community and it has truly blossomed. It speaks volumes about what we can accomplish when we work together. We are especially grateful for the support of our financial sponsors:  Fairfield County Community Foundation, the Housing Authority of the City of Danbury and the Danbury Housing Partnership. ”   Gartner noted that CityCenter Danbury will donate the services of a staff member to help manage the program.

The program builds on a successful pilot program introduced by Peggy Zamore in 2009 through the Wholesome Wave Foundation in response to a large increase in demand for SNAP benefits in the Danbury area and increasing concern about the need to address health issues associated with diabetes and childhood obesity. Additional financial benefits offered under the program will increase the ability of SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program recipients to purchase fresh foods at the Danbury market by providing dollar for dollar matches.  Complementing this effort will be food education, health cooking demonstrations, health screenings, fitness and wellness activities and a variety of arts and cultural experiences designed to promote an engaged, healthy and active lifestyle.

Danbury Housing Partnership Chairman Mark J. Nolan applauded the collaborative’s effort:  “This innovative initiative will give an economic boost to our downtown while addressing the nutrition and health needs of vulnerable populations in our community as called for in Danbury’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.” Mr. Nolan singled out the Partnership’s Social Services Co-Chair Denise Valeri for her efforts in working on this project.  Mr. Nolan also noted the efforts of Partnership Vice-Chair M. Carolyn Sistrunk as well as Board Chairman Domenico Chieffalo of the Housing Authority of the City of Danbury for their support of the program.

fccflogoAn anonymous donor with a fund at the Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) is the major financial contributor to the project, with additional funding coming from the Danbury Housing Partnership and the Housing Authority of the City of Danbury.    The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services, and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. It is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards for community foundations. The Foundation has awarded over $110 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.

“The Farmers’ Market in Danbury has many positive impacts. It brings people to downtown Danbury and provides fresh produce from local farms to area residents, including low-income residents and senior citizens,” said Karen Brown, Vice President of Programs at the Fairfield County Community Foundation. “We are also impressed with the number of local nonprofits working together to make this another successful season. The Foundation is pleased to be a member of the Collaborative.”

The public is encouraged to attend the market’s grand opening on July 9, and to support our local farmers by patronizing the market throughout the summer season.  A short program will begin at 10:45 a.m. introducing the Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative and the Farmers’ Market will begin at 11 a.m. with the ringing of the opening bell.

Donations to Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative can be made through The United Way of Western CT, 85 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810. Further information on events and activities connected with the Danbury Farmers’ Market will be posted online at www.citycenterdanbury.org.  For more information please call the CityCenter Danbury office at 203-792-1711.

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