FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Three markets offering locally grown produce will open Wednesday in areas of Fort Wayne considered to be food deserts; places where there is little or no access to fresh food.

The Healthy Eating Active Living or HEAL Markets are a partnership between the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health. HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne operates the markets.

Just like in years past, locally grown produce will be available at all three locations; WIC (Women, Infants & Children) produce vouchers, Senior produce vouchers, and all SNAP (food stamp) purchases will be matched $1 for $1. That means anyone using SNAP or WIC/Senior vouchers gets double the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables for their family. Veggie RX, a Parkview Health program, is also accepted, as are cash, credit and debit payments.

HEAL Market locations and times are:

  • McCormick Place Market, 3005 McCormick Ave., Wednesdays, July 13-September 28, 5-7 p.m.
  • Parkview Health Greenhouse Market, 1716 Beacon St., Thursdays, July 14-October 27, 4-6 p.m.
  • South Side Farmers Market, 3300 Warsaw St., Saturdays, July 16-October 29, 8 a.m.-Noon.

“The combination of rising costs, supply chain issues and the end of pandemic SNAP benefits is squeezing the food budgets of many local families,” said Meg Distler, executive director of the foundation. “The HEAL markets double the buying power for many low-income residents so they can stretch their food dollars while also feeding their families highly nutritious fruits and vegetables.”

HEAL Markets have become an expected rite of summer in recent years, but consumers will notice a few changes this go-round.

“We’re partnering with local agencies to offer more services, increasing the value of a trip to the market,” said Sharon Tubbs, director of HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne. “For instance, we’ll distribute backpacks with school supplies, provided by MDWise, to launch the market season. The markets will also host health screenings, informational booths, healthy food tastings, and youth activities through October.”

Again this year, the WIC Office will be on site at the McCormick Place and Parkview Health Greenhouse markets to issue a limited number of WIC produce vouchers to those who qualify. The vouchers are expected to be available in August. Vouchers and the $1 for $1 match are accepted at any of the HEAL markets.

HEAL Markets are the only farm markets in the area that double the amount of purchases with WIC and Senior produce vouchers. SNAP is now doubled at all HEAL Markets, Plowshares/Rose Farm mobile markets, Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market, the 3 Rivers Food Co-Op and the Health Food Shoppe of Fort Wayne as part of Double Up Indiana. (Learn more at DoubleUpIndiana.org.)