Downtown Concierge

Inside 43215: Making Local Food Accessible to All


inside 43215


Downtown Columbus

Pearl Market and Puffin Foundation West teamed up this summer to promote healthy and affordable food choices to those in need. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from Puffin Foundation West, Pearl Market initiated a special program to help locally address food security issues.

While many people realize the a benefit of buying farm-fresh, local food, which can be found in Pearl Market, access and affordability can be a barrier for those receiving food assistance. The new plan takes a three-prong approach: outreach, education and affordability.

With the help of the grant from Puffin Foundation West, Pearl Market initiated a 1-to-1 matching program, which doubles the purchase power of people who receive EBT/SNAP benefits. This means a $10 purchase turns into $20.

Pearl Market brings farmers right downtown twice a week, which makes accessibility easy on COTA or by foot since the market is a quick five-minute walk from nearly 60,000 people working downtown.

To engage a larger community, Pearl Market reached out to area social service agencies and delivered additional marketing materials to help spread the word about the 1-to-1 matching program even further.

After making some progress on affordability and outreach fronts, Pearl Market staff honed in on education, and that’s when healthy food enthusiast and professional chef Shannon Gerasimchik entered the scene. Every month, Chef Shannon of Chik’s Catering runs a Tasty Tuesday during which he not only provides tasting samples, he also talks to customers about how to feature fresh produce during meals in ways that are economical, fun and delicious. From there, customers pick up one of the chef’s recipes and head off into Pearl Market to purchase the ingredients.

Food security is a daunting and complicated issue in the United States, and thanks to the support from Puffin Foundation West, Pearl Market is helping make a positive impact on the local level.