You Make an Impact: Hunger Down/Healthy Up!


The clock strikes 3 PM, signaling dismissal at Patterson Elementary School in Ward 8 of Washington, D.C. But Patterson’s young students aren’t quite ready to go home yet. Instead, they meet their parents and gravitate towards the cafeteria, where something special is happening.

Inside, the regular lunch tables are folded and stacked in the corners of the room, replaced by a spread of stations overflowing with stacks of healthy groceries and fresh produce. A food educator juliennes bell peppers and carrots. And the warm opening notes of the Jackson 5’s ABC begin to drift through the air. The doors to the cafeteria open, and smiling volunteers invite the children and their families inside to shop the stations at no cost, learning how to prepare the food while they’re at it. Another Joyful Food Market at Patterson Elementary has begun.

Thanks to your support, scenes like this are becoming common throughout the District of Columbia. The Joyful Food Market at Patterson is just one of 29  markets operated by Martha’s Table and the Capital Area Food Bank in Wards 7 and 8, which are known as the city’s most dire “food deserts.” As one Patterson parent explains, “all we have are corner stores in the area, and they don’t provide fresh fruit and vegetables.” The result has been a community of children and families who know how important it is to eat healthy, but lack the resources to do so.

Yet, our newly released research shows something amazing: with the help of Joyful Food Markets, parents aren’t running out of food and their families are eating healthier:


The findings are clear: Joyful Food Markets work. One parent, a long-time shopper at out Turner Elementary market summed it up best when she said: “This program is amazing; every school in D.C. needs a program like Joyful Food Markets!”

We couldn’t agree more, and with your continued support, and our dedicated volunteers, whose time stretches every dollar you donate, we hope to bring a Joyful Food Market to every elementary school east of the Anacostia River. Together, we’ll make sure as many families as possible have access to no-cost healthy food.