People’s Market Feeds Appetite for Health and Success
Rockwood, located in East Multnomah County between Portland and Gresham, is Oregon’s most diverse community, home to more than 80 languages. The People’s Market was created by the Rockwood Food Systems Collaborative to offer community farmers and vendors their first entrepreneurial experience in a setting that would maximize their profits while keeping prices affordable for their customers.
For example, one advantage of the low-barrier market was that there was no need for fancy packaging and product display—a farmer could simply unload their truck into bins or baskets. In addition, space fees were low and payment methods streamlined. This season more than 50 entrepreneurs sold produce, prepared food items or crafts and generated nearly $75,000 in sales.
Wallace proudly paired up with the People’s Market to increase access to its products for our food insecure patients—and to help make this new venue financially successful for farmers. Each week we texted invitations to a targeted group of households, offering them a $25 coupon. If they texted back “yes” we sent a confirmation which they presented when checking in at the market. They received Wallace tokens which could be spent at any farmer’s booth.
The project got rave reviews. Patient participation grew steadily, with many families attending weekly. In total, we served 145 households—a participant survey showed that people were very satisfied with the amount of the voucher and the type of products available. Over 90% said they would like to participate again next year. “Thank you for offering this opportunity,” commented one participant. “It’s very helpful. Sometimes it’s the only food my family has.”
Wallace patients who shopped at the People’s Market at Rockwood during the past harvest season reaped the benefits of locally grown fresh produce without breaking their household budgets. As a bonus, their purchases invested critical dollars into the community by supporting the food businesses of their neighbors. Centrally located from June through October at the Sunrise Center in Rockwood, the weekly People’s Market focused on immigrants, people of color, and others who don’t usually shop at typical Portland area farmers markets. This season’s market featured fresh produce and food items from culturally diverse growers as well as healers who specialize in food and herb wellness, and other handmade goods from local artisans. Shoppers also enjoyed live entertainment and took advantage of resources such as vaccinations and sign-ups for community services.
Support from Wallace’s community friends made our program possible. Our heartfelt thanks to:
- Contributors to the Reuler Family Fund for Patient Support
- Benson Family Foundation/St. Luke Lutheran Church
- Jackson Foundation
- Legacy Health System
- OnPoint Community Credit Union
- Swigert Foundation
- Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust
Every dollar spent at the People’s Market accomplished two important public health goals: bringing more fresh foods into the homes of our patients and supporting the economic prosperity of emerging growers from our community.