CFSC National Conference: October 16-19, 2010

Short Courses and Field Trips

Friday, October 15

9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Trip: Outlaw Local Food? I don’t think so!(FULL)
11:00 am – Sat.
Trip: Returning to Our Roots: A Cajun Experience
12:00 – 4:00 pm
Trip: Revitalizing Main Street with Food (FULL)
4:00 – 6:30 pm
Course: Field Guide to Evaluation, Part I

Saturday, October 16

7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Trip: Cooperation is the Name of the Game
7:30 am – 12:00 pm
Trip: Food Deserts, Food Swamps & Food Access (FULL)
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Trip: Fisheries, Food, and Environmental Justice
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Trip: Lower Ninth Ward Food Projects
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Course: Food Policy Councils: Getting Started, Moving Forward (FULL)
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Course: Growing Urban Agriculture Through Policy Change
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Course: Food Safety and Liability Insurance Issues
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Course: Field Guide to Evaluation, Part II
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Trip: NOLA Urban Agriculture
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Trip: Growing Healthy Kids in New Orleans Schools
1:30 – 5:30 pm
Course: Food Policy Impacts

Field Guide to Evaluation

Jeanette Abi-Nader, CFSC
Michelle Kobayashi, National Research Center, Inc.

Amber Baker, Janus Youth Programs
Eca-Etabo Wasongolo, Janus Youth Programs

FRIDAY 10/15, 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM & SATURDAY 10/16, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

COST: $95.00

(cost includes Lunch and CFP Evaluation Handbook and Toolkit and TOOLS Only CD)

A comprehensive two-day intensive focused on outcome-based evaluation strategies, tools and analysis designed expressly for Community Food Project (CFP) grantees and other CFP practitioners. Come learn how to tell the story of your work’s impact. Trainers will focus on all stages of program evaluation and include innovative evaluation strategies and learning tools.

Food Safety and Liability Insurance Issues for Marketing to Institutions

Kristen Markley, Community Food Security Coalition
David Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Steve Warshawer, Wallace Center/National Good Food Network
Glyen Holmes, New North Florida Cooperative
Christy Cook, Sustainability Support Sodexo
Vonda Richardson, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Programs
Cheryl Wixson, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Jennifer Hashley, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

SATURDAY 10/16, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM


This course will detail the findings of a CFSC project funded by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) regarding food safety and liability insurance barriers and possible solutions for producers marketing to local schools, colleges, and other institutions. Attendees will increase their knowledge of food safety standards developed by organizations representing limited resource farmers and learn what’s happening at the national level around food safety policies. Attendees will leave with strategies for assisting farmers in their region in developing supportive structures and collaborative solutions for meeting food safety and liability insurance requirements. Join CFSC and RMA project partners (Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and New Entry Sustainable Farming Project) in exploring and strategizing creative methods for supporting farmers in addressing these challenging issues.

Growing Urban Agriculture through Policy Change

Betsy Johnson, CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee Co-Chair
Cynthia Price, CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee Co-Chair
Martin Bailkey, Dane County Food Policy Council
Katherine Kelly, Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture
Megan Lott, CFSC
J.P. Muhly, Baltimore, MD
Andrea Petzel, City of Seattle
John Shaffer, The University of Memphis

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

COST: $35.00

This course will offer background information, case studies, policy status updates, and a wide variety of tools (from assessments to customizable materials to make one’s case) to help participants support and foster policy that encourages urban agriculture at the Federal, state, and local levels. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “New Orleans Urban Agriculture” field trip in the afternoon.

Food Policy Councils: Getting Started, Moving Forward (Food Policy Part I) (FULL)

Mark Winne, CFSC
Cindy Torres, Boulder County Farmers’ Market Association

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

COST: $35.00

Community food security practitioners are developing local and state food policy organizations – councils, networks, coalitions – across North America to coordinate their food system stakeholders and to influence food policy. The course will engage participants in a series of activities designed to increase their ability to organize and manage local/state food policy organizations. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “Making Food Policy Impacts” course in the afternoon.

Food Policy Impacts: Making the case for Healthy Economies and Healthy People (Food Policy Part II)

Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center
Sarah Hackney, Gorge Grown Food Network
Zoraya Bernadete Souza, Brazil
Sarah Franklin
Kathryn Strickland, North Alabama Food Co-operative
Regi Haslett-Marroquin, Rural Enterprise Center

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35.00

Community foods initiatives that are savvy about their local economy gain greater strength, because economics is often the basis for policy. This workshop highlights success stories from U.S. communities where local economic initiatives made impact. Visionary food and health policies adopted by cities in Brazil will also be featured. Attendees are encouraged to attend the “Food Policy Councils” course in the morning.

Returning to Our Roots: A Cajun Experience

11:00 AM FRIDAY 10/15 – 4:00 PM SATURDAY 10/16 (OVERNIGHT)


Since the mid-1700s, the Acadians have made their home in the area around the Atchafalaya River and developed one of America’s unique cuisines. Cajun food developed here, growing out of the bounty of the bayous and the climate of the region. Join us on this tour to explore the history of Louisiana agriculture, tour bayous, and be immersed in Cajun Culture.

On Friday, the group will meet at the hotel and drive to Lafayette to visit the Gotreaux Family Farm, where a family of 12 is raising a large variety of crops from tilapia to turkeys.  Young farmers who are reinventing Louisiana agriculture will  discuss their innovative projects. After a great dinner at the LA Seafood Housefeaturing Gotreaux products, the group will head to downtown Lafayette for a live concert.

On Saturday, the trip will head to the Lafayette Hub City Farmers’ Market and then   visit with a family that has been on the same land since the first Acadians arrived at Brookshire Farm.  After a visit to EarthShare Gardens to see their exciting work, the group will tour the Acadiana Cultural Center and head back to New Orleans.

Outlaw Local Food? I don’t think so! (FULL)

FRIDAY 10/15, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM


Journey into the heart of Bayou country to visit the Fonseca family that started Outlaw Katfish on Bayou Des Allemandes and get an intimate view of fishing in Louisiana. The Fonseca family has been influential in both the marketing and policy changes that allow sustainable traditional fishers to succeed in bringing Louisiana seafood to resident’s tables. Lunch will be provided directly from the Bayou and followed by a visit to a fish market in the city where many Louisiana fishers sell their products.  Participants will learn first hand how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is dramatically altering the livelihoods and culture of the region.

Revitalizing Main Street with Food: Tour of OC Haley Boulevard (FULL)

FRIDAY 10/15, 12:00 – 4:00 PM


In the last five years, parts of Central City have experienced major revitalization projects, many of which are focused on improving access to healthy food. This walking tour will start with lunch at Café Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant that trains youth from the community, providing them with the skills for a future in the culinary industry. We will also visit the New Orleans Missions, Latino Farmers Cooperative, and the Mahalia Jackson Children and Family Center.

Cooperation is the Name of the Game: the Mississippi Farmers Co-op

SATURDAY 10/16, 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM


The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MAC) is a successful model of local farmers collaborating to provide fresh produce, meat, and prepared foods to schools, grocery stores, and casinos, among other institutions. This group will meet with members of a seafood cooperative and travel to Indian Springs Cooperative to meet with Ben Burkett, Director of MAC, and farmers who are a part of MAC.

Food Deserts, Food Swamps & Food Access in Urban Communities (FULL)

SATURDAY 10/16, 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM

COST: $35

Learn about the history of food distribution and business ventures in New Orleans on this tour of grocery stores and markets. The group will visit the Crescent City Farmers Market; Angelo Brocato, a century-old Italian ice cream and pastry business for a tasty treat; Terranova’s Supermarket, a family-owned market and butcher shop established in 1925; Rouses, a local grocery store chain; Hollygrove Market & Farm, an urban garden that sells local produce and prepared foods; and Jack and Jake’s, the newest local and organic grocery store.

Fisheries, Food, and Environmental Justice in New Orleans East

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM


The largest urban wildlife sanctuary in the continental US is located in New Orleans East, a community under attack from environmental pollution. Beginning at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, participants will see the Viet Village Urban Farm and discuss the creative ways this community is building a sustainable food system. The group will also visit nearby community and backyard gardens and stop at the Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery, a famous bakery that serves French and Vietnamese pastries.

Lower Ninth Ward Food Projects

SATURDAY 10/16, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM


Jenga Mwendo, founder of the Guerrilla Garden, will lead a service project at her community garden and discuss food access projects in the Lower Ninth Ward. Participants will hear from the founders of the NOLA Food Co-op, a community owned grocery store opening in 2011, and tour the neighborhood see the efforts of many groups to rebuild a sustainable neighborhood.

NOLA Urban Agriculture

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 AM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35

With 66,000 acres of vacant land, urban agriculture is on the rise in New Orleans! Tour a variety of projects that are sprouting all over the city – Desire Street Ministries, Covenant Farms, Hollygrove Market & Farm, Little Sparrow, and Sun Harvest Kitchen, to name a few. Led by the New Orleans Food & Farm Network, the trip will illustrate how communities are working to improve access to healthy food.

Growing Healthy Kids in New Orleans Schools

SATURDAY 10/16, 1:30 AM – 5:30 PM

COST: $35

New Orleans schools are building gardens left and right. This tour will visit Dr. King Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward, Langston Hughes Academy Charter School in Mid-City, and the Edible Schoolyard in Uptown to see examples of school gardens. Participants will enjoy a cooking demonstration at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and discuss the benefits of teaching kitchens in schools.


Continue reading “CFSC National Conference: October 16-19, 2010”

2005 meeting on Esplanade WFM future

This meeting and many others like it were undertaken because of Whole Foods Market’s decision in 2005 to close the 3135 Esplanade Avenue location. The neighborhood was very concerned, especially with the announcement that the sale of the building would include a non-compete clause so that other grocery stores could not operate there for some years, even though the building had contained a grocery since around the turn of the century.




Meeting to Discuss the Future of the Whole Foods Site Attracts 140 Neighbors

A neighborhood town meeting took place on February 19 at the Holy Rosary cafeteria to discuss the future of the Whole Foods site. Over 140 individuals attended the meeting, an overflow crowd that exhausted all available chairs. The Austin-based company announced in January that the Esplanade store would be closing in April. According to those involved in the organization of the meeting, Whole Foods Market’s CEO John Mackey has offered to allow neighbors some involvement with the review of bids for the property, which is supposed to be listed for sale in the next few weeks.

The meeting was chaired by Robert Thompson, co-owner of Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, who gave some background history of the closing of the store. Next, Darlene Wonik discussed a survey that she had taken regarding what grocery items neighbors want in a store. The first guest speaker was Mike Zarou, owner of All Natural food store. Mr. Zarou said that in order for him to open a business at the present Whole Foods site he would need to own the building. He said that if he had not owned the building on Magazine Street, where his previous store was located, which was directly across the street from the Uptown Whole Foods, he would have had nothing to show after 19 years in business. French Quarter grocer Cosimo Matassa addressed this sentiment, saying that the expected high sale price would make it very difficult for most businesses to make a profit at that location. Two other grocers, Lakeview Fine Foods and Canal Blvd. Super Market, who were invited to the meeting did not attend. Larry Schmidt, a representative of the Trust for Public Lands, discussed the possibility of having Whole Foods donate the property to the Trust. The property would then be transferred to a non-profit entity that would operate a community business. Many in the audience reacted positively to this possibility. John Calhoun of the New Orleans Food Co-Op said, “The only way the community can get what it wants is to own the shelves.” Many approved of this message, and one individual in the audience urged Mr. Calhoun and his organization to purchase the Whole Foods site. However, Mr. Calhoun stated that the Food Co-Op had but a few thousand dollars it its account. Tommy Usdin, President of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, offered his organizations resources to help determine what the neighborhood wants at the Esplanade site. A second meeting will be held sometime in March.

2002 Gambit Letter from All Natural Foods

Natural vs. National

I appreciate the cover story, “Farm Futures,” written by Sara Roahen in Gambit (Dec. 3). We at All Natural Foods have promoted organic food for over two decades. It is important that people are informed about organic food as an alternative to the chemical-laden food which is commonly available in the mass market.

Since 1994, All Natural Foods has carried 100 percent organic produce. We have been the organic stronghold of New Orleans, yet we were not interviewed or even mentioned in the Gambit article. This article came out two days before the opening of Whole Foods’ new store on Magazine Street. What better advertisement for their opening could they have asked for? Does this national chain need public relations assistance from Gambit?

I remember when Gambit started having national advertisers. This “local rag” was changing. Now, Gambit appears to be supporting Corporate America through editorials, ignoring long-time local businesses. TheGambit of old might have had a feature article about the importance of keeping local businesses alive with the influx of national chains into the city.

As Gambit marches into the future hand-in-hand with Corporate America, our small businesses of New Orleans need local journalistic support. Perhaps those of us who hold on to those things that give New Orleans its charm and flavor do so in vain.

–Michael Zarou

Owner, All Natural Foods

Maurice Ruffin’s “Taking of Freret”

From author Ruffin’s piece for Southern Foodways journal Gravy:


Darlene Wolnik talked to me about how what we eat has been altered. She explained how mirlitons represent my changing hometown. “Back when the city had hundreds of chain-link fences, mirliton vines thrived and could be found everywhere. Our grandparents stuffed shrimp in them and made it a holiday. Once those chain-link fences were torn down for high wooden walls, the mirliton had nothing to hang on and largely disappeared.” Darlene had pinpointed the connection between the choice of so many New Orleanians to build fences you could see through versus high-collared bulwarks to blot out the world. A desire to isolate killed the mirliton.

My grandparents’ house in the Lower Ninth Ward had chain-link fences, as did the houses of many of my aunts and uncles. They all included mirlitons in their toolbox of soul food ingredients. My parents and my mother-in-law also made great stuffed mirlitons, which looked like oversized green tulips crammed with a beef, shrimp, and vegetable dressing. Many an afternoon, I sat at their tables chomping on the savory, palm-sized treats. You could blindfold me, and I’d be able to tell you which oven they came from. My family scooped out the innards of the vegetable and stuffed it with a mix heavy on the beef, like hamburgers on a vegetable bun. My mother-in-law’s were based on her mother’s recipe. Their mirlitons were mostly breading and shrimp. Much more delicate than what I grew up on. I loved them all.


Look for Ruffin’s new book, due in January 2019


Oral History: Greta Gladney, Renaissance Project Founder

I did a series of oral interviews with local residents that I felt were exhibiting new ways to lead their community. I hoped to use these stories to shed light on how local people were leading the recovery as they fought the consolidation of power from corporations and government.

In the end, I was uncomfortable with the way that publishers wanted me to shape these interviews and so I used them more informally, sharing pieces with leaders and writers when they wanted to understand the grassroots power of the city. None have ever formally acknowledged the contribution of these stories to their work, although some clearly drew on them.

Many of these interviews focused on food and farming, as that was my focus before and after 2005. Greta Gladney is one person who has never received the credit she deserves in the work we share and so I asked her to share a little of that but even more so, share information on her extended family. 

“Family has shaped my work”: Interview with Greta Gladney, Executive Director of The Renaissance Project and 4th generation 9th ward resident.

Lower 9th ward.  So many world citizens heard about this neighborhood for the first time around August 31, 2005, and it must have seemed an antiquated, oddly political way to define one’s home. (9th ward? That’s their neighborhood name? You can just hear someone from Roxbury or from Clifton-upon-Dunsmore ask with confusion.) The Lower 9th ward was certainly politicized before the levee breaks. The area has been a center of neighborhood activism since its founding in the early part of the 20th century.  The digging of the Industrial Canal in 1923 put a literal gulf between the rest of New Orleans and the Lower 9, and that (along with the largely rural feel of the area) accentuated the fierce need for self- determination and identity that continues to this day.

A 4th generation resident, Greta had begun to make her name as the founder and Executive director of non-profit The Renaissance Project around 2001. Its mission is to improve the quality of life in the 9th ward, and Greta missed few opportunities to be in on any new idea that might help her neighborhood.

Upon returning to the city after the hurricane, she ran for mayor in a group of over a dozen candidates (she says) to keep the conversation focused on those underserved areas and people that were in danger of being swept away in the “ new” New Orleans politics of late 2005. She received 100 votes in the election (4 candidates received less votes than she with more money reportedly spent) and also received more awareness from media and leaders, which the soft-spoken, newly married 40-something mother of 3 (grandmother of 2!) parlays skillfully into more help for her organization and her neighbors at every turn.


Interview location: Borrowed apartment in French Quarter

Where did you grow up?

“I grew up on the corner of Lamanche and North Roman, that’s about a block away from what’s now Martin Luther King Elementary School, which had been another school named Macarty (home of Bush vs. Orleans Parish School Board; the legendary lawsuit that forced integration of two 9th ward schools in 1960), where my mom went to school and my grandmother taught.

So, the house I grew up in was my grandmother’s house. She and my mother bought it together, and my mother was living there up until the storm. I have lived in Lower 9 all but 3 years of my life, when I was New York City doing graduate study (was there from 99 until 2002, so have done two disasters in my life).  After I finished my M.B.A, I came back home.

I have always thought about travel and have traveled, but this was always home. My mother was actually born in a house on Gordon in the 9th ward, and had never lived anyplace else (until the levee breaks). My grandmother was born in St, Charles Parish in Des Allemandes, but spent most of her life with her mother and family in Lower 9.

It’s interesting to me, because I’ve seen the neighborhood transition over 40 years; working class neighborhood, strong work ethic, mixed socio-economic. In our two-block area we had renters, homeowners, duplexes. Everyone knew everybody; everybody kept their grass cut. We shopped on St. Claude and Claiborne; there were thrift stores, pharmacies that delivered, supermarkets, what’s now (or what was last) the Philadephia Apostolic Church on St. Claude, was an A&P.

When I was in New York and traveling while I was in school, I was always looking at other remote communities, and looking for strategies that would apply to the lower 9. One thing was the Greenmarkets in New York City. Union Square of course, and I lived in Brooklyn, so the one at Grand Army Plaza on Saturdays I went to a lot. It was exciting to me because everybody was there; it was multi-ethnic and inter-generational; it was a social event and lots of good food and flowers, and I thought it would be great for the 9th ward.

Did your family grow food?

It’s funny; when I bought my house, I closed on my house on my 30th birthday (May 13, 1994).  That November before when I went to see the house, there was mirliton growing all the way up the fence. I only saw the house the one time, made an offer on it and refused to go back ‘til I closed, and when I went back there were peach trees in the backyard and garlic growing.

My grandmother always grew okra, eggplant, parsley, bellpeppers, tomatoes…

She enjoyed gardening, and she’d try other things (just because I was curious) like carrots and broccoli.  She also grew those tiny peppers, you know really hot.

How was your work different after the storm?

When I returned after the storm, the work was the same-writing grants to get markets, working with the St. Claude Merchants Association, chasing down the state about getting the Main Street Project, (which was awarded in 2006).

What has changed really is access to Lower 9, since not much of anything is open (as of early 2007). To help Lower 9, I have to work farther up St. Claude and have it trickle down.

Pre-Katrina, we wanted to do two (farmers) markets on St. Claude, one below and one above the (Industrial) Canal to encourage people to cross the avenue, interact and help with economic development.

6 months later:

Have things changed since last year in your work to build the

9th ward?

I see the progress made by committed individuals to rebuild their homes and churches to return home. I see a unified Holy Cross Neighborhood Association that pre-storm was thought to be elitist serving the entire Lower Ninth Ward. I see organizations staying out of each others way because there’s more than enough work and good intentions to go around and no need to compete.

With respect to my work, it’s time to come home.

Living outside the 9th ward broadened my perspective as well as scope of work. I spent a year working on St. Claude Ave. Main Street thinking that it was good for the community. While I won’t say that it was a waste of my time, I will say that as a result of that experience, I am more aware that behavior is indicative of emotional and moral intelligence, more aware of how language and behavior betray race, class and gender issues and am less tolerant of people overall. No good deed goes unpunished. So my focus shifted for a few months and is returning to areas where I believe I can move forward.

 Tell me a little about your immediate family  and where they all are at this point.

My mother and I received our Road Home money and moved back into her house in late October. Ironically, and typical of bureaucratic red tape and miscommunication, her gas has remained on at the property for the past two years. When she had the property inspected, Entergy turned the gas off and put a lock on the meter. A couple of days later, a technician returned to the property and took the meter. My mom called and was told that gas was not available in her area.

So my mother, second daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are living in my mom’s house on Lamanche and Roman where I grew up. I am not crazy about the overall quality of work but it’s better than before the storm and my mom’s back in m grandmother’s house. My oldest child, my daughter Danielle, is still living in Marrero. Over the past year, she has gone from housing my entire family, mom, daughter, son-in-law, her husband and two children, to just her and the two boys. She and her husband have separated and are filing for divorce. They’ve been married just over a year. So life is returning to normal? Life in the house on Lamanche is returning to normal. In 1965 during Betsy my grandmother, mother, father and I lived in the house on Lamanche and Roman. (My father was out of town during that storm.)

Now after Katrina, my mother, daughter, son-in-law and their daughter live in the two bedroom house. Old fashioned family unit with the matriarch at home cooking dinner everyday and the entire family under one roof. And the house is across the street from MLK elementary where my two grandsons are in attendance.

After school they go over to Grandma Iris’ house until my daughter picks them up.

So they see each other everyday.

My dad is at American Can Company. Jim (her husband), Stephen and I are still in MidCity. I’ve committed to clearing away the overgrowth in my yard in Holy Cross, planting a garden and having the exterior of the house painted in November. Then I’ll hang shutters, and get the house rewired. I’m taking my time and rushing simultaneously.

Your thoughts about the future of the community you have been  rebuilding and how community has shaped your work.

Family has shaped my work. Both of my maternal grandparents lived in the Lower 9th ward as did their extended families. A week ago, my 95-year old great aunt died. She was the last of my grandfather’s generation. Her church has reopened on Caffin; the church that her father founded and built. The same church where I attended daycare as a toddler and my second daughter attended summer camp. Not far away is the land where she and four siblings grew up, the site of the Dunson Memorial Ethnobotanical Garden, the project nearest and dearest to my heart.

School, education, has shaped my work, since my mother and grandmother were elementary school teachers.  My children and grandchildren have had the same elementary school principal, Doris Hicks. So school and community are interrelated. The school is open and is an anchor in the Lower 9th ward north of Claiborne. The community has reinforced my belief in resiliency and self-determination.

I am very hopeful.











































Local farmers markets doing their part to serve food insecure neighbors

It is important to understand the work that farmers markets have done over the last decade and a half to bridge the digital divide that resulted from the 1994-2004 move from paper food stamps to the EBT card across the U.S. In 2005, New Orleans’ ECOnomics Institute*, house at Loyola University’s Twomey Center for Peace and Justice was one of the first market organizations in the country to build partnerships to fund the technology and the outreach to reclaim the attendance of food stamp shoppers at farmers markets. The organization has expanded its programs to encourage low-income and at-risk neighbors to be able to access healthy food grown by their farm neighbors, and shared its tactics and findings with market organizations across the U.S.

The average benefit for a SNAP recipient is about $4 per day, but in Louisiana the average cost for just one meal is $3. For one person eating three meals a day with no snacks, that’s a food-budget shortfall of $150 each month. For a family of four it’s $600 per month, and to qualify for the program, these families can’t net a monthly income above $2100.

Families participating in WIC can have higher incomes than those receiving only SNAP benefits, and some families receive benefits from both programs. But unlike SNAP, WIC food packages limit families to purchasing specific items and brands, and the allowance for fruits and vegetables is only about $10 per month.

At the office for Market Umbrella and the Crescent City Farmers Market we get several calls a week from people who need food. Their SNAP benefits have run out. The closest food pantry isn’t open that day. Spending money on food now might mean falling behind on rent or the Entergy bill.

Unfortunately, we aren’t always able to help these people in crisis, but we do operate several programs at Crescent City Farmers Market that incentivize and encourage healthy eating on a budget. Our Market Match and Market+ WIC programs give households extra money to purchase fruits and vegetables, all of them grown within 200 miles of the city, picked fresh, and packed full of nutrients.

The Market Mommas Club gives Medicaid-eligible mothers who are breastfeeding $80 a month to spend on local goods at our markets—an amount roughly equal to what might be spent on infant formula over the same period of time.

Besides bringing more fresh produce into our community’s homes, we’ve also partnered with local schools through our Farm to School program. It connects farmers to school food providers and assists with hands-on gardening education for teachers and students.

We believe our farmers and families should have sovereignty over the foods they grow and consume, and that growing and shopping local are vital to our community’s physical, mental, and economic health.

The Lens piece about farmers market programs

* ECOnomics Institute renamed itself Market Umbrella and established itself as an independent 501 (c) 3 organization in 2008.

Roux Carre closes

Here are the details in a letter from the Good Work Network E.D. Hermione Malone:

Dear Friends,

As the year winds to a close, Good Work Network, like many of you, is taking stock of where we are and where we’re headed in the New Year.

For 17 years, Good Work Network has been committed to helping women and minority entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. And in that time we’ve started or strengthened more than 2,200 businesses; created or sustained more than 5,600 full time jobs; and facilitated the awarding of more than $68 million in contracts to small businesses.

While we’ve done much, we realize we can do far more to increase opportunity, wealth and business stability for minority entrepreneurs. When African-Americans own roughly one-third of all businesses, but earn only 2% of all business revenue, a new approach is in order.

So, in 2019 we’re getting back to basics, restructuring our operations to better support entrepreneurs of color. As such, we are closing our Roux Carré food incubator, effective Friday, December 21.

Roux Carré was envisioned as a vehicle to support the cultivation of minority culinary entrepreneurs as restaurant owners/operators. And during its run, Roux saw five culinary businesses created; 8 expanded; and 10-full-time and 8 part-time positions created while providing a showcase for up-and-coming performing and visual artists. However, like many restaurant ventures, Roux Carré failed to grow revenue to a level that would keep it financially stable. Therefore, the Good Work Network Board has made the decision to close Roux and redirect our resources toward more core supports for minority entrepreneurs.

Thank you to the many chefs, funders and community partners who devoted their energy, passion and love to Roux. We invite everyone to celebrate their efforts and current chefs Queen Trini Lisa and Local Menu NOLA at Roux Carré ’s final holiday vendor market on Sunday, December 16, featuring music from Strate Notes. Regular hours will be observed through December 21, when Roux will close at 8 pm. for the last time.

In the coming weeks, Good Work Network will share more about our plans for 2019 as we redouble our efforts to support minority entrepreneurs while building a stronger, thriving economy for all. For more information, please contact Executive Director Hermione Malone at

From all of us at Good Work Network, best wishes for the season and a prosperous New Year.

– The Staff and Board of Good Work Network

Opinion: St. Roch Market

I wrote the piece below for The Lens, although I really wanted to write a piece about the different food offerings between this building, Circle Food, The New Orleans Food Co-op, and Mardi Gras Zone, all within blocks of each other serving the population differently in each case. Unfortunately, the editor at the Lens wasn’t interested in that story.
Circle Food store opened before this food hall did, but is already closed. The Robert’s on St. Claude seemed to have hurt sales at the Circle Food (as it seems to be hurting sales at the New Orleans Food Co-op), but since St. Roch is not a grocery store, it is attracting a good amount of users. Still, the best function of this food hall remains a question to many neighbors, and since it is still owned by the city it may become a political issue again at some point.

Circle Food Store closes

The loss of Circle Food in 2018 is a tremendous blow to the fight against food apartheid in New Orleans. Not only is this historic (once public market) building now shuttered and unlikely to quickly find a new use, but the community has lost its daily connection with its entrepreneurial owner and his longtime zeal to offer affordable food.
This story illustrates the need to dive a little deeper into financing and demand issues around small grocery stores and for the city to prioritize infrastructure for healthy and culturally appropriate food choices in every corner of the city.

Many links in the story below:
Another Fresh Food Initiative grocery store recipient may close in New Orleans