Youth Fighting Fat (Part Three): Empowered Youth, Empowered Communities
Part three of a three-part series by Talia Whyte
The Mattapan Farmers’ Market is a youth-led initiative spearheaded by the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition. Healthy food has become more affordable in the city this year, due in part to the Bounty Bucks program, which enables low income Bostonians to have access to products available at city farmers' markets while strengthening the economy for local farmers. For purchases up to $20, a customer’s EBT card will be debited for half the cost. In addition, most of the food at the Mattapan market comes from farms in neighboring Milton, which helps reduce the carbon miles food travels from farm to table.
However, it seems like for every step forward, there are two steps going backwards. Recently, Congress targeted funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps to offset costs for Medicaid and teacher layoffs. These cuts will especially hurt youth, who consume nearly half of SNAP-purchased products.
In the same breath, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also just passed, which provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs including school lunch. The increase is a first in 30 years. While some advocates see this as a victory, other felt that the passage of this bill along with the food stamp cuts was like robbing Peter to pay Paul. There is no clear-cut way to addressing food security and childhood obesity; however, at least the topic has become a national discussion.
As for the Mattapan farmers’ market, the discussion is starting from the grassroots, local level, and making a difference - one bite at a time.