The popularity of local foods and farmers markets has grown rapidly over the last decade, particularly in the last two to three years. As an increasing number of Americans are becoming concerned with where their food comes from – how it was produced and by whom, how far it has traveled from field to table, etc. – they are consequently changing their minds about what they want on their dinner table.

However, while consumption of local food continues to increase, there remains a significant percentage of the American public who are simultaneously struggling to meet just their basic food needs and/or who lack a range of healthy, affordable food options (which most often includes local and organic foods) due to a myriad of limiting socioeconomic and physical/spatial factors. Unable to access healthy alternatives, many of these individuals are often forced to choose from cheap, easy, readily available, and therefore often unhealthy, alternatives.

This disparity of food options has resulted in a growing food gap between affluent or food secure and low-income or food insecure individuals. Several food assistance programs have been enacted to specifically address this gap by increasing low-income consumers access to farmers markets, and thus, fresh, local, nutritious foods. These programs include the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, the Electronic Benefit Transfer cards Farmers’ Market Project, and matching funds programs. This paper analyzes the efficacy of these programs through a targeted analysis of the Silver Spring Farmers Market located in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Agricultural and Resource Economics