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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

61st Street ‘Market Boxes’ Bring Fresh Foods To Low-Income Woodlawn Residents

Nearly 70 homes will receive food boxes Friday, the first day of deliveries under the program.

Some of the items included in the 61st Street Farmers Market and Star Farm's food boxes.
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WOODLAWN — When the coronavirus pandemic forced the 61st Street Farmers Market to go virtual last month, people using SNAP benefits were left behind since Illinois Link cards aren’t accepted online.

But market organizers have come up with a workaround: You can purchase a food box from the Back of the Yards-based Star Farm to be donated to neighbors on public assistance.

“We were really frustrated by how inaccessible good local food was to our Link users,” said market manager Wendy Zeldin. “Instead of waiting for a policy shift — which seems increasingly unlikely any time soon — we decided mutual aid was probably our best bet.”

The boxes include organic seasonal produce like microgreens, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus and radishes. The crops are sourced from Star Farm and other local farms.

Eggs from Illinois and Michigan and bread from Publican Quality Bread in Fulton Market are included, as well.

Star Farm is a vendor at the market and has an existing community-supported agriculture program, so it made sense “to use the infrastructure already in place,” Zeldin said.

Nearly 70 homes will receive food boxes Friday, the first day of deliveries under the program. Star Farm has the capacity to send out 80-100 boxes per week.

Everyone who requested a box for Friday will get one thanks to “an incredible fundraising response for the first week,” Zeldin said. The program has already raised enough money to ship out nearly 300 boxes.

“If we have a huge surge and don’t have the capacity to fill everyone’s needs” in the coming weeks, low-income, Black Woodlawn residents will be prioritized, Zeldin said. Most people receiving a box this week already fit into that demographic.

Click here to donate a food box. You can sponsor a full box for $40, a half box or multiple boxes.

Click here to request a food box. Due to high demand, new requests for food will be delivered beginning May 23.

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