New market aims to ease food access in Augusta

Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Food insecurity has only increased since the start of the pandemic. And for those living in food deserts, getting fresh and affordable foods has become even harder.

A new farmer’s market is now open in downtown Augusta. This was the set up earlier today at the intersection of Laney Walker and James Brown Boulevards, right next to the health department.

“You’ll have fresh fruits, meats, we may have some cheeses and milk, but just fresh products.”

The pandemic has limited access to many things, but getting food shouldn’t be one of them

“When we see something of a farmers market it’s easier to go there and try to replenish your food that you need to get through this pandemic,” shopper Ceresa Kirk said.

Kirk says where she lives, there are not a lot of options to buy fresh, affordable foods.

“We have to travel in order to get cheaper prices,” she explained.

And she’s not alone. Years ago, the main grocery store in the Laney-Walker area closed, leaving many people without access to food.

“A lot of people in this area are looking to go to either South Carolina for groceries or Washington road..,” Shanna Carkhum, development manager for Housing and Community Development, said.

The new Laney Walker Monthly Farmers Market is hoping to help.

“...We did some location scouting, and we decided to go with Laney Walker...,” Carkhum said. “It’s an easy commute. The bus stop is directly across the street so they can access it by bus, or they can access it by foot, or they can drive a vehicle to this location.”

According to data from Golden Harvest Food Bank, food insecurity in our area has increased by 41 percent, and more people are seeking help since the pandemic began.

“There are record numbers of people applying for SNAP and EBT benefits...So, you come here, and you swipe your EBT card or SNAP card for, say, $20 worth of tokens, and we give you $40 worth of tokens to go shop with,” Rebecca Van Loenen, Augusta Locally Grown Executive Director, said.

But the organizers say this step is only the beginning. They are also planning to start another market in South Augusta very soon.

This farmers market will be held on the first day of every month, but the city is also looking at more permanent shopping options for the downtown areas.

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