Despite being situated in a thriving agricultural region many families in the Pajaro Valley do not have access to affordable and healthy food options. To ensure everyone has access to fresh and nutritious foods the Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley has announced the return of their weekly farmers’ market El Mercado.
Aimed at increasing access to fresh, healthy food and promoting healthy living habits for Pajaro Valley residents, CHT’s El Mercado can also help to create a more equitable food system where everyone, regardless of income, has access to fresh and nutritious foods.
We live in a very abundant area, surrounded by fresh, healthy produce, but the truth is, many residents and families do not have easy access to these.
— DeAndre James, Executive Director for CHT
Now in its third season, DeAndre James, Executive Director, Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley shares his excitement and intention as the organization doubles down on what has been working and continues to increase its programming. He shares, “we will be hosting monthly family events, offering Eating Healthy tours, and incorporating nutrition education and resources throughout the market, all at no cost to market attendees.”
The market will also serve as a VeggieRx voucher redemption site, which is a CHT program that offers free produce to eligible residents facing food insecurity.
100%, if it weren’t for this (VeggieRx), I wouldn’t be able to buy my eggs and my vegetables
— Pajaro resident, E.R.
CHT’s VeggieRx program provides eligible participants with $20 vouchers for produce that can be redeemed at El Mercado. Current providers offering VeggieRx to their clients include the Diabetes Health Center, Salud Para la Gente, and Doctors on Duty. The market also accepts EBT and offers up to $10 through CalFresh’s Market Match program, making healthy produce more affordable for low-income households.
In addition to providing access to healthy produce and prepared foods, El Mercado will also collaborate with local partners to offer resources that promote healthy habits and lifestyles. The market will offer live cooking demonstrations, wellness screenings, and local community resources for healthy living.
El Mercado will open every Tuesday from 2 pm to 6 pm at Ramsay Park in Watsonville, and will run until October 31. Sponsors of the market include Kaiser Permanente, Granite Construction Inc., Lookout Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Bank, and California Giant Berry Company.
Here is a list of upcoming events:
- April 18 - Earth Day Celebration
- May 30 - Physical Fitness & Sports Day
- June 27 - Local Artist Pop-up
- July 25 - Back to School Fair
- August 29 - Public Health & Emergency Preparedness
- September 19 - Hispanic Heritage Month
- October 31 - Halloween Costume Contest
The launch of El Mercado is a welcome initiative for the Pajaro Valley community, and is sure to make a significant impact in reducing food insecurity and promoting healthy living habits. For more information about El Mercado, visit their website here.
About Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley:
Founded in 1998 and serving a tri county area, the Community Health Trust is recognized for its leadership as a convener in the South Santa Cruz County area. CHT is motivated to foster an equitable Pajaro Valley with health, wellness and a full quality of life for all through access to resources, activities, and choices that help prevent illness and improve quality of life.