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Gourmet Newswire

33 Smart & Final Store Locations Acquired From Haggen Now Open for Business

Smart & Final, one of the longest continuously-operating food retailers in the U.S., has announced that all 33 lease locations it acquired in December 2015 which were operated under the Haggen banner are now open as Smart & Final Extra! stores.

The transition and re-opening of the 33 stores was a considerable undertaking that has allowed Smart & Final to make significant strides in achieving its Project 100 Initiative goal of opening 100 new stores over the next four years. In opening the 33 stores, Smart & Final has increased its presence in the important Los Angeles and Orange County markets, and doubled store count in the California Central Coast and San Diego.

Each store opening created more than 50 new jobs, with Smart & Final hiring more than 1,900 associates to support the 33-store increase. Additionally, in line with its promise to give back to the communities in which it operates, for each new store opened, Smart & Final’s Charitable Foundation™ made donations to local nonprofits, resulting in over $140,000 in philanthropic donations. Furthermore, through its “First Street First Percent” campaign, Smart & Final will donate the first one percent of net profits from the sale of its private label brand First Street® in US-based Smart & Final banner stores to the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation, which supports local nonprofits such as Boys & Girls Clubs, food pantries and Little League organizations.

Smart & Final offers a one-stop shopping experience where businesses, clubs and organizations, as well as household shoppers, can fulfil their grocery needs while also stocking up on thousands of club-size products, all without a membership fee. All new stores feature Smart & Final’s Extra! format, which includes expanded frozen, deli and meat sections, a full produce section, organic and natural food products, high quality perishables and meats, a wide selection of private label offerings, and unique products such as self-serve bulk goods by the pound and oven-roasted chicken. The company is also testing new merchandising initiatives including hot bakery, sushi and cut fruit offerings in select stores.

“The positive growth and momentum Smart & Final has experienced is a true reflection of our consistent focus on value, quality and convenience which has not gone unnoticed by today’s savvy shopper,” said Chief Executive Officer Dave Hirz. “I’m excited that these 33 new stores provide an opportunity for Smart & Final to reach more customers with our unique offering, broad range of products and dedicated staff, and am confident that our brand promise will continue to give us a competitive edge in this market. I truly appreciate the dedication and effort of our associates to achieving this incredible milestone and want to welcome all of the new associates that have joined our team,” Hirz added.

Between January 20 and May 11, 2016, Smart & Final opened 11 Smart & Final Extra! stores in the San Diego area, seven in Los Angeles County, four in Orange County, three in Ventura County, four in the Central Coast, and two in the Inland Empire, all of which were formerly operated under the Haggen banner, and one additional non-Haggen location in Sacramento County.

Currently, Smart & Final operates 306 stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, including 251 Smart & Final banner stores, 160 of which are Smart & Final Extra! format stores. As part of Project 100, the company plans to open 100 new stores over a period of four years, in line with its 10 percent annual unit growth plan, and to hire at least 5,000 new employees to staff those stores over the next four years. Smart & Final is approximately one year into Project 100, and almost one-third of the way towards meeting its goal of 100 new stores. Several more stores are slated to open this year.

Beaverton Foods Wins Four Gold Medals at World-Wide Mustard Competition

Oregon’s 87-year-old specialty condiment manufacturer took home a grand total of eight awards; four of them gold medals – at the 21st annual World-Wide Mustard Competition. The event involved more than 100 judges at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. The global competition has included entries from as far away as Japan, Greece and Sweden.

Barry Levenson, curator of the National Mustard Museum, noted in an email: “The rest of the world is ‘yellow with envy’ of Beaverton’s long dominance at the World-Wide Mustard Competition.”

Beaverton imageBeaverton won gold medals for Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard in the Sweet Hot category, Inglehoffer Ghost Pepper Mustard in the Pepper Hot (Scorching Hot) category, Inglehoffer Hot Horseradish Mustard in the Horseradish/Wasabi category and Beaver Cranberry Mustard in the Fruit category. The company was awarded silver medals for Beaver Brand Dusseldorf Mustard in the Classic Hot category and Inglehoffer Horseradish Wasabi Mustard in the Horseradish/Wasabi category and bronze medals for Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard in the Pepper Hot (Mild to Medium) category and Inglehoffer Creamy Dill in the Herb/Veggie category.

Domonic Biggi, CEO of Beaverton Foods, said the fourth generation family-owned and operated company is proud to be a long-time participant in the renowned international mustard competition. “It’s humbling to say we have won more than 150 medals at this annual competition,” he said. “We are especially pleased that our new Inglehoffer Ghost Pepper Mustard was selected for a gold medal. Additionally, we’re grateful that culinary experts around the world like our products.”

The annual competition is open to all commercial mustard producers and agents worldwide. There are 16 flavor categories of which there are gold, silver and bronze awards given to the contestants. Since 1995, judges consisting of chefs, food writers and mustard aficionados have blind tasted the mustards in the competition.

Cypress Grove Wins 13 Prizes at California State Fair

Cypress Grove won 13 prizes at the 2016 California State Fair Commercial Cheese Competition. Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor and Fromage Blanc were each awarded a prestigious Best of California prize, in addition to eight gold medals and three silver medals for several other cheeses.

Not ones to be left out of the fun, the other winners include: soft-ripened Humboldt Fog Grande and Mini, Truffle Tremor Mini, and Bermuda Triangle; and fresh cheeses Purple Haze, Sgt. Pepper, Ms. Natural, PsycheDillic, and Herbs de Humboldt.

“National and international awards carry a lot of prestige, but come on(!), Cali is our home and when you win two categories and 13 total awards – it feels really, really good. We are thrilled,” says Bob McCall, Cypress Grove Sales Director. “I am particularly proud that Fromage Blanc took ‘Best of California’ in the soft goat cheese category. This product is the basic building block of all we make, so being the best reflects positively on our entire line.”

A panel of 12 qualified judges tasted and evaluated 169 California cheeses in advance of the July State Fair. The 2016 California State Fair runs July 8-24.

Artisanal Cheese Partnership Springboards Creativity for Cabot Creamery

By Lorrie Baumann

Cabot Creamery’s partnership with Cellars at Jasper Hill won an American Cheese Society first-place award for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Select and another first place for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar last July and now is inspiring new Cabot Creamery cheeses created for distribution in mainstream grocers, says Craig Gile, New Product Manager for Cabot Creamery.

The recipe for the clothbound cheddars was developed jointly by Cabot Creamery food scientists and Cellars at Jasper Hill Cheesemaker Mateo Kehler and was designed to make a cheese with a sweet, nutty finish. Cabot Creamery’s large production capacity made it possible to produce large quantities of the cheese – as much as 5,000 pounds a month, depending on market demand, which peaks during the winter holiday season. The cheese is aged for a few months at Cabot Creamery and then sent over to The Cellars at Jasper Hill for affinage, packaging and eventual sale to specialty cheese shops, where it fetches around $25 a pound for wheels aged 12 to 14 months. The difference in scale between the two companies means that while Cabot Creamery can make massive amounts of cheddar cheese for the mass market and take advantages of the economies of scale that come with that kind of production, which depends a great deal on consistency, The Cellars at Jasper Hill can take a small percentage of that product and lavish a great deal of attention on it to produce a product that commands a premium price for its uniqueness. Cabot Creamery also gains access to the artisanal cheese market as well as the cachet of having its name on award-winning cheeses sought after by cheesemongers. “Not only do we get a link to that artisanal cheese world, it gives Cabot the reputation that we’re able to make the artisanal cave-aged product as well,” Gile said.

As the partnership has prospered, though, it’s had some additional effects as Gile, who moved over from managing Cabot’s warehousing and grading to new product development, has had the chance to share knowledge with Jasper Hill Cheesemakers Mateo and Andy Kehler. “We’re each pursuing different areas of what we’re trying to do, and we’ve learned a lot from them,” Gile said. “We’re getting a lot of insight into what the artisanal base is looking for and finding paths to the customers that shop at these cheese shops.”

“I really like what that whole cheese shop environment brings to us,” he continued. “It’s a place to launch new cheeses, to get honest feedback about what you’re working on, to get their feedback from customers…. What I like about the cheesemonger role is that we have people selling it who have passion about the product and can tell the story about it. It’s another challenge for us to come up with products that are exciting…. You have to convince cheesemongers that you have an exciting, interesting, and high-end product.”

Founders_x_Legacy-7That insight into the artisanal cheese market has inspired the cheesemakers at Cabot Creamery to apply that information as well as knowledge about new cheese cultures as they’re figuring out how they can use their existing cheddaring equipment to make new cheeses with different taste profiles. Instead of just adding new flavoring ingredients to existing cheeses, they’ve begun developing the recipes to create entirely new cheeses that the company is able to produce in quantities large enough to target the lines at mainstream delis. These cheeses, which Cabot has dubbed its Founder’s Collection, aren’t intimidatingly different from the mainstream, but they’re definitely designed to appeal to the novice turophile who’s ready to take a step up from the cheeses he’s used to picking up at the supermarket. “These are aimed at the deli counter,” Gile said. “We didn’t want to launch four new cheddars, so we’ve got three cheddars and another unique cheese…. We were looking for a way to add genuine value to the product, not just to make it look pretty.”

The Cabot Creamery Founder’s Collection includes Cabot Private Stock, which has the familiar tang of the New England-style cheddar that consumers expect from Cabot Creamery but with a stronger Northeastern bite to it.

AdirondackAdirondack is made in the New York facility acquired with the 2003 acquisition of McCadam Cheese Company by Agri-Mark, the dairy farmer cooperative behind Cabot Creamery. Aged 1.5 to two years, it’s similar to Cabot Private Stock but made with the McCadam original stock cheese with its tangier citrus bite that lends a unique flavor profile compared to Cabot’s Vermont cheddars.

LambertonLamberton is similar to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, except that it’s packaged in plastic rather than with cloth bindings. The name is a nod to one of Cabot’s original founding farmers, and the cheese has a buttery sweetness overlaying the traditional flavors of a strong yankee cheddar.

The last is Orne Meadows, which is completely different from most milk cheddars. It has powerful nutty notes redolent of a Grana-style Alpine cheese with a subtle New England sharpness to it. “That one, we don’t actually call it a cheddar on the package,” Gile said. “ We just say it’s a unique Vermont cheese.”

New Meat Topped Pizzas from American Flatbread

American Flatbread has expanded its premium line and entered a new product category with three new meat topped pizzas – Pulled Pork & Pineapple, Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño and Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon. These new pizzas are a great alternative to takeout pizza and make delicious, restaurant quality last minute dinners for families on the go.

American Flatbread’s pizzas are premium handmade flatbreads that are wood-fired in earthen ovens and are made with organic and all natural ingredients. They are made with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The flatbreads have a light, crisp and flavorful bite.

Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon – Crispy bacon and pepperoni with a tangy organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño – Sweet pineapple, fiery jalapeno with smoky pulled pork, barbeque sauce and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

Pulled Pork & Pineapple – Sweet pineapple, smoky pulled pork, barbeque and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

The pizzas are available in 10-inch and 12-inch. The 10-inch pizzas retail between $6.99 – $7.99 and the 12-inch pizzas retail between $8.99 – $11.99. The new American Flatbread pizzas are available in select retailers across the country.

Sprout Organic and CROSSMARK Announce Partnership

Sprout Nutrition and CROSSMARK, Inc. announced a new nationwide partnership to bring organic whole foods to babies, toddlers and all family members. The partnership gives Sprout expanded category presence and broad access to retailers with consumer insight capabilities while broadening CROSSMARK’s presence within the baby and organic family snack categories.

With this agreement, Sprout is investing in proven capabilities that will drive growth of the Sprout brand nationally. Sprout gains a knowledgeable sales force with a solid track record in the organic space and access to more than 5,500 retail merchandisers across the country. Retailers will benefit from collaborative planning to bring dynamic innovation and category/shopper insights to the rapid growing organic segment of the baby category.

The partnership with CROSSMARK is an important part of a major new brand investment by Sprout, under new ownership of private equity firm North Castle Partners, and a new CEO, Rick Klauser, a 10-year veteran of Gerber. The brand revitalization was ignited earlier this year with a packaging graphic redesign, the launch of 15 new products and a major marketing investment to drive retailer and baby category growth. Sprout also plans to build on its momentum, by adding new items in the fall, including Sprout Smash, an organic fruit puree snack expanding the brand into the squeezable snack category. The improved speed-to-shelf capability will allow parents to find healthy, whole organic foods at their favorite retailers.

“Securing national distribution and strong retailer partnerships are both strategic priorities for us. Our new relationship with CROSSMARK represents a significant building block to achieve this important milestone,” said Rick Klauser, CEO of Sprout. “Organic baby food is a Millennial mom’s expectation for what’s best for her baby. Parents are setting a higher bar for product quality and clean, honest, labeling. It’s no surprise that this would influence the expectations parents have for premium organic purees that we deliver through our honesty pledge: non-GMO, only whole fruits and vegetables (never concentrates, preservatives fillers or thickeners), and transparent labeling.”

“CROSSMARK is honored to work alongside Sprout as they continue to grow and set the standard in organics. Our analytics capabilities and retail representation across the country will help Sprout drive an increasing presence nationwide as they bring ‘real, honest and pure’ products to market and give parents increasing confidence in their choices,” said Steve Schuckenbrock, CEO of CROSSMARK. “This partnership is a win- win.”

Artisanal Cheese Partnership Springboards Creativity for Cabot Creamery

By Lorrie Baumann

Cabot Creamery’s partnership with Cellars at Jasper Hill won an American Cheese Society first-place award for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Select and another first place for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar last July and now is inspiring new Cabot Creamery cheeses created for distribution in mainstream grocers, says Craig Gile, New Product Manager for Cabot Creamery.

The recipe for the clothbound cheddars was developed jointly by Cabot Creamery food scientists and Cellars at Jasper Hill Cheesemaker Mateo Kehler and was designed to make a cheese with a sweet, nutty finish. Cabot Creamery’s large production capacity made it possible to produce large quantities of the cheese – as much as 5,000 pounds a month, depending on market demand, which peaks during the winter holiday season. The cheese is aged for a few months at Cabot Creamery and then sent over to The Cellars at Jasper Hill for affinage, packaging and eventual sale to specialty cheese shops, where it fetches around $25 a pound for wheels aged 12 to 14 months. The difference in scale between the two companies means that while Cabot Creamery can make massive amounts of cheddar cheese for the mass market and take advantages of the economies of scale that come with that kind of production, which depends a great deal on consistency, The Cellars at Jasper Hill can take a small percentage of that product and lavish a great deal of attention on it to produce a product that commands a premium price for its uniqueness. Cabot Creamery also gains access to the artisanal cheese market as well as the cachet of having its name on award-winning cheeses sought after by cheesemongers. “Not only do we get a link to that artisanal cheese world, it gives Cabot the reputation that we’re able to make the artisanal cave-aged product as well,” Gile said.

As the partnership has prospered, though, it’s had some additional effects as Gile, who moved over from managing Cabot’s warehousing and grading to new product development, has had the chance to share knowledge with Jasper Hill Cheesemakers Mateo and Andy Kehler. “We’re each pursuing different areas of what we’re trying to do, and we’ve learned a lot from them,” Gile said. “We’re getting a lot of insight into what the artisanal base is looking for and finding paths to the customers that shop at these cheese shops.”

“I really like what that whole cheese shop environment brings to us,” he continued. “It’s a place to launch new cheeses, to get honest feedback about what you’re working on, to get their feedback from customers…. What I like about the cheesemonger role is that we have people selling it who have passion about the product and can tell the story about it. It’s another challenge for us to come up with products that are exciting…. You have to convince cheesemongers that you have an exciting, interesting, and high-end product.”

That insight into the artisanal cheese market has inspired the cheesemakers at Cabot Creamery to apply that information as well as knowledge about new cheese cultures as they’re figuring out how they can use their existing cheddaring equipment to make new cheeses with different taste profiles. Instead of just adding new flavoring ingredients to existing cheeses, they’ve begun developing the recipes to create entirely new cheeses that the company is able to produce in quantities large enough to target the lines at mainstream delis. These cheeses, which Cabot has dubbed its Founder’s Collection, aren’t intimidatingly different from the mainstream, but they’re definitely designed to appeal to the novice turophile who’s ready to take a step up from the cheeses he’s used to picking up at the supermarket. “These are aimed at the deli counter,” Gile said. “We didn’t want to launch four new cheddars, so we’ve got three cheddars and another unique cheese…. We were looking for a way to add genuine value to the product, not just to make it look pretty.”

The Cabot Creamery Founder’s Collection includes Cabot Private Stock, which has the familiar tang of the New England-style cheddar that consumers expect from Cabot Creamery but with a stronger Northeastern bite to it.

Adirondack is made in the New York facility acquired with the 2003 acquisition of McCadam Cheese Company by Agri-Mark, the dairy farmer cooperative behind Cabot Creamery. Aged 1.5 to two years, it’s similar to Cabot Private Stock but made with the McCadam original stock cheese with its tangier citrus bite that lends a unique flavor profile compared to Cabot’s Vermont cheddars.

Lamberton is similar to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, except that it’s packaged in plastic rather than with cloth bindings. The name is a nod to one of Cabot’s original founding farmers, and the cheese has a buttery sweetness overlaying the traditional flavors of a strong yankee cheddar.

The last is Orne Meadows, which is completely different from most milk cheddars. It has powerful nutty notes redolent of a Grana-style Alpine cheese with a subtle New England sharpness to it. “That one, we don’t actually call it a cheddar on the package,” Gile said. “ We just say it’s a unique Vermont cheese.”

Lee Delaney Appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer for BJ’s Wholesale Club

BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. announced that Lee Delaney has been appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer effective May 9, 2016. Delaney will be responsible for the company’s merchandising and supply chain organization, and will report directly to BJ’s President and CEO Chris Baldwin.

“I am very excited to welcome Lee to the BJ’s team,” said Chris Baldwin, President and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club. “Lee’s strategic capability, extensive experience and high credibility in the industry make him a perfect fit for our team. With a talented merchant organization already in place, adding Lee to our team will ensure that we will not only maintain but accelerate our progress.”

Prior to joining BJ’s, Delaney was a partner in the Boston office of Bain & Company, and a leader in the firm’s consumer products practice. While at Bain, Delaney advised clients on corporate strategy, created new market entry plans, supported client acquisitions, and advised on large cost reduction programs. Prior to joining Bain in 1996, Delaney worked for Electronic Data Systems and Deloitte Consulting advising clients on a variety of engagements.

“I am delighted and feel privileged to have the opportunity to join the BJ’s team,” Delaney said. “BJ’s holds a unique position in the wholesale club retail channel. I look forward to working with BJ’s executives, merchants, and all of BJ’s team members to unlock the tremendous value I see in this segment of the market.”

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Announces $10 Million Share Repurchase Program

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc.’s board of directors has authorized a new two-year program to repurchase up to $10 million in shares of the company’s common stock.

Repurchases under the company’s new program will be made from time to time at management’s discretion on the open market or through privately negotiated transactions in compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-18, subject to market conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. Repurchases of common stock may also be made under a Rule 10b5-1 plan, which would permit common stock to be repurchased when the company might otherwise be precluded from doing so under insider trading laws. The share repurchase program does not obligate the company to purchase any particular amount of common stock and may be suspended, modified or discontinued by the company without prior notice.

“We are pleased that our strong balance sheet and cash flow enable us to return value to stockholders through this new share repurchase program, while at the same time continuing to invest in the company’s long-term growth,” said Kemper Isely, the company’s Co-President. “Our board of directors and the senior management team strongly believe that the company’s growth prospects are not fully reflected in the company’s current stock price. The share repurchase program demonstrates our confidence in the strength of our business and our commitment to delivering shareholder value.”

The company had approximately 22.5 million shares of common stock outstanding as of May 5, 2016. The company expects to finance the share repurchase program through borrowings under its revolving credit facility.

Nonprofit Center Takes Fresh Local Food into Washington DC’s Food Deserts

By Lorrie Baumann

In Washington D.C.’s urban center, a restaurant-inspired nonprofit organization is planting seeds for a new generation of healthy eaters. Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is bringing fresh, local produce to low-income neighborhoods at regular weekly mobile farmers markets so that the residents of these food deserts can shop for local fresh vegetables, eggs, organic milk and grass-fed and pastured beef and pork. At the same time, the organization is paying the farmers from whom it sources the food a fair market price, and providing government food relief agencies with data they need to develop new tools to encourage their low-income clients to eat a healthier diet. “Just because somebody has a low income doesn’t mean that they don’t want to participate in the joyful process of buying food at a farmers market. They get to participate in this beautiful aspect of food, which is to pick what they want and talk with the people about it,” said Arcadia Center Executive Director Pamela Hess. “If we could get more people spending more SNAP at farmers markets, we would remove a significant portion of hunger, because the hunger problem in this country is not about getting enough calories; it’s about getting enough nutrition. We could have a really powerful influence on public health.”

SNAP is an acronym for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s the largest of the federal government’s food assistance programs. Commonly known as food stamps, SNAP currently provides $75 billion per year in food assistance, according to Rich Lucas, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Deputy Administrator for Policy Support. “With that increased purchasing power, the intention is to allow people to be able to purchase almost anything that’s able to be consumed at home,” he said. “But we all know that all consumers need to improve their diet. SNAP is paying about $400 million a year to teach people how to eat better.”

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture was started in 2010 by Washington D.C. restaurateur Michael Babin, a co-owner of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, an award-winning collection of independent businesses devoted to the culinary arts in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Babin started the organization, a 501(c)3 charity, after he found himself unable to supply his restaurants with high-quality local produce in sufficient quantity and at an affordable price and reasoned that if he couldn’t find that affordable produce, it stood to reason that low-income residents of the city around him couldn’t do it either, Hess said. The mobile farmers market program, one of four major programs for the Arcadia Center, was launched in 2012 and now makes regular weekly stops in neighborhoods where the closest food access is often at small convenience stores that don’t stock much in the way of perishable produce.

Johns Hopkins University public health nutritionist Joel Gittelsohn has been studying how corner stores in nearby Baltimore, Maryland, serve their SNAP customers. He says that, “When you talk to the customers, they say that, ‘I would love to buy healthy foods, but they are too expensive, not available or are of poor quality in the stores I shop in. Retailers said, ‘I would love to stock them, but no one buys them, and the last time I stocked it, it just sat on the shelves.’”

The USDA is trying to change that situation by proposing new eligibility standards for retailers participating in the SNAP program. Under the new rule, those retailers would be required to stock a wider array of food choices. “USDA is committed to expanding access for SNAP participants to the types of foods that are important to a healthy diet,” said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon when he announced the proposed rule in February. “This proposed rule ensures that retailers who accept SNAP benefits offer a variety of products to support healthy choices for those participating in the program.”

The new standards are being fought by NACS, the national trade association of convenience store operators, which says the new rule seems designed to push small convenience stores out of the SNAP program. “Small businesses will be harmed and SNAP beneficiaries, who rely on these small stores in both urban and rural environments, will lose options they need to feed their families,” NACS wrote in its letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.

The Arcadia Center’s program aims to attack the same problem of access to healthy food at its roots. Its Mobile Market rolling farm stands make regular weekly stops in low-income neighborhoods around Washington that typically have high SNAP usage, low car ownership and are a mile or more from a conventional grocery store. The program prices the food at fair market value but also matches the face value of benefits from federal food programs. “If you pay $10 for food, what you get is $20 worth,” Hess said. About 70 percent of transactions involve some sort of food assistance, which can be applied to proteins as well as fruits and vegetables. “Customers love the idea of grass-fed meats and organic foods because they know it’s better for their children – they just can’t afford it [at the grocery store],” Hess said. The Mobile Market took in $22,000 in SNAP business in 2015, compared to a total of about $75,000 in SNAP sales at farmers markets throughout the city. The program matched the face amount of those SNAP benefits, so that those customers went home with $44,000 worth of food. “People are using SNAP with us to buy local, high-quality food – they’re eschewing the chance to buy cheap at a convenience store,” Hess said. “They are voting with the resources they have.”

Arcadia Center also has a farm on which much of the produce it sells is grown. The center is partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to transform the 126-acre Woodlawn-Pope-Leighey estate, once a part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation, into a true Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture.

Other food offered at the Mobile Markets is sourced from local farmers who grow responsibly but don’t bring their produce into these neighborhoods themselves because they can’t sell enough there to make it worth their while. “They can’t take that much time from their fields to sell a couple hundred dollars of food,” Hess said. “The numbers are small, but we put an additional $130,000 in the pockets of local farmers that they wouldn’t have had because they don’t have access to our markets. It helps them diversify their revenue. One of the things that’s very important is that we do not feed poor people on the backs of farmers. Our philosophy is that we have to pay our farmers a fair price. Farmers don’t make much money, and they cannot be expected to shoulder the weight of paying our poor people.”

“Handling hunger might not be just about putting more money into SNAP,” she continued. “I think it’s about helping people make good choices about using their SNAP, making choices that will nourish them – possibly eating less calories, but eating more nutrient-dense food.”

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