Watertown’s Hidden Problem: Food Insecurity Among Us (First Part of a Series)

Food on the shelfs at the Watertown Food Pantry, which has seen an increase in the number of people using its services since the start of the Pandemic. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

For many, Watertown is a destination for food and eating, with dozens of restaurants, markets small and large, and a farmers market through the warmer months. However, a significant number of residents have trouble affording to feed themselves and their families. The hunger problem in Watertown is often not visible, but those who provide assistance and services to people in need have noticed a recent increase in the number of people in town facing food insecurity, spiking during the Pandemic. And, while the COVID cases have dropped, the numbers of people going to Watertown’s two food pantries, or needing help to put enough food on their table has remained at about the same level.

Watertown Farmers Market Returns for 10th Season on June 14

Photo courtesy of Live Well WatertownThe Watertown Farmers Market returns to Saltonstall Park on June 14. The Watertown Farmers Market enters its 10th season this month, and adds several new and a many returning vendors to the lineup of produce, baked goods, meat & fish and many specialty vendors. Artists will also attend the market each week. Opening day for the Watertown Farmers Market is June 14 and runs each Wednesday through Oct. 25 from 2:30-6:30 p.m. (6 p.m. in October), rain or shine, at Saltonstall Park — the corner of Main Street and Whites Avenue (next to City Hall).

Watertown Farmers Market Survey, Thanksgiving & Winter CSAs

The Watertown Farmers Market sent out a customer survey to see how they can improve the market at Saltonstall Park. Also, people can get fresh produce from a couple of the market’s farm stands. The Watertown Farmers Market sent out the following information:

We Want to Hear Your Voice! Help Us Create an Even Better Market for 2023! Please take this brief, yet important survey about your experiences at the market this year.  We want to hear from ALL community members: from weekly shoppers to those who were not able to make it this year – your feedback is important!  

Follow Link to Take Survey: 2022 Customer Survey

Thank you in advance for your participation, and please share the link!

Watertown Farmers Market Offering Opportunity to Get Fresh Produce Over Winter

Still Life FarmAn example of the produce from Still Life Farm’s Winter CSA. The Watertown Farmers’ Market will soon be over for the season, but devotees can continue to get fresh produce for Thanksgiving, and over the winter through a pair of programs. Those who qualify can get a free bag for Thanksgiving. Live Well Watertown provided the following information:

The Watertown Farmers’ Market season wraps up on October 19th but recently announced two partner programs to offer customers local produce in the off-season. Dick’s Market Farm is offering a one-time Thanksgiving Day Bag for $40 which will include a variety of seasonal produce, including items that can be easily stored. The bag will be delivered free to City Hall (Council Chamber) on Wednesday, November 16th, with pick-up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Customers using SNAP can get the bag for free using their HIP benefit.

State Officials Celebrate National Farmers Market Week in Watertown

Charlie BreitroseWatertown celebrated National Farmers Market Week on Wednesday. Along with the normal throngs of people seeking fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and more, a group of state officials attended the Watertown Farmers Market Wednesday to mark National Farmers Market Week. The weekly market, held every Wednesday at Saltonstall Park, not only provides access to locally grown and produced food, it serves as a place for the community to come together and to provide nutritious items to those who struggle to pay for food. Massachusetts has more than 200 farmers markets, said John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, but most others are not held in such picturesque locations, including parking lots. “I love this site here.

Watertown Celebrating National Farmers Market Week with Scavenger Hunt, Music & More

The following information was provided by the Watertown Farmers Market:

Join us on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. in Saltonstall Park, next to City Hall, to celebrate our market and the community that supports it! This year, Watertown has the honor of hosting visitors from the State, including John Lebeaux, Commissioner of Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources, Steven Owens, State Representative 29th Middlesex District, Christine Ruggieri, Acting Regional Administrator, USDA FNS Northeast Region, Edith Murnane, Executive Director of Mass. Farmers Markets, as well as other representatives from state and local agencies.

New Pop-Up Food Vendor at This Week’s Watertown Farmers Market

The Watertown Farmers Market will be at Saltonstall Park, next to City Hall (149 Main St.) on Wednesday, July 27 from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. and features a new pop-up prepared food vendor along with the usual lineup. The Farmers Market sent out the following information:

Join the WFM, on Wednesday, to pick from a variety of summer ripened fruits and veggies, fresh meats, seafood, and specialty foods, along with fine arts and crafts from local artisans. Be sure to stop by our community and city guest tents to learn about local agencies, services, and resources.This week we have an exciting new prepared foods pop-up, Nagomi Bento. For the first time, the WFM will have authentic Japanese bento bowls available for purchase. Grab your reusable bags, take a look at our layout below, invite a friend, and come on by! What’s Growing? Our fabulous produce vendors will be bringing plenty of fresh summer goodies like heirloom tomatoes, plums, peaches, kale, cabbage, blueberries, yellow onions, garlic, cucumbers, and summer squash!

Watertown Farmers Market’s Wants to Know What Prevents People from Shopping at Market

The following information was provided by the Watertown Farmers Market:

The Watertown Farmers’ Market has created a survey to learn what barriers prevent people from using the market’s food assistance programs.

The market provides free food to SNAP eligible customers through its dollar-to-dollar match program, as well as access to the Healthy Incentive Program (HIP), which gives an instant rebate on produce purchased from any of our HIP vendors ($40 to $80 per month depending on household size). These benefits are exclusive to the farmers’ market, and significantly underutilized within the Watertown community, based on data from the state. Through ongoing outreach and education about these programs, the market hopes to reach more people who are unaware of these benefits and to educate them, as well as to implement changes based on information collected. Our goal is to make it easier for eligible customers to access free food from the market. For more information about the market’s food assistance programs, visit our website.