Pop-Up Produce Market Offers Healthy Eats

The Food Day event provided fresh produce to more than 110 families in D.C.

Produce Market 2013
The university community came together to raise awareness about food security and hunger at the Pop-Up Produce Market on Saturday.
October 28, 2013

By Brittney Dunkins

George Washington University students and staff volunteered at the Pop-Up Produce Market on Saturday, providing bags of local, seasonal produce to more than 110 families from underserved communities at the Deanwood Recreation Center in Ward 7.

The Food Day event, co-sponsored by the Food Justice Alliance with support from Councilmember Yvette Alexander, promoted healthy eating and simple nutrition. It also boasted food demonstrations by University Chef Rob Donis and more than five kinds of produce, including pears, tomatoes, chard, potatoes and green beans, donated by Sodexo, Blue Ridge Produce, Body Fuel Crunch and others.

“The Pop-Up Produce Market offers the campus community an opportunity to be good neighbors and serve others,” said Diane Robinson Knapp, chair of the Urban Food Task Force and wife of University President Steven Knapp, who also showed his support at the event.

“Our goal is to promote healthy eating for the GW community and our community in D.C.,” she said.

University students and staff representing the Food Justice Alliance, Green GW, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the GW Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service and community members from the Deanwood Civic Association filled produce bags, handed out literature on nutrition and local social services and talked with community members at the market.


“This event is really important,” said Agustin Pedrazzoli, a student-volunteer and member of Green GW. “It’s great to see that the produce market really responds to a need in the community.”


Ward 7 is one of many areas in Washington that have struggled with access to nutritious food, an issue that Ms. Alexander said they are working to improve.


“I think this event fantastic,” Ms. Alexander said. “Here in Ward 7, we have a lot of ‘food deserts,’ but this event shows that when you provide access to healthy fruits and vegetables, the community will use them.”

Ms. Knapp added that community members were essential in providing support and organizing details for the event.


“The community was a great resource in planning the event because they are already supporting one another through their churches and other organizations,” she said.


In addition to receiving a produce bag, each family also received a recipe sheet that offered guidance for cooking the produce. Mr. Donis demonstrated the three recipes and answered questions about preparation, nutritional benefits and portion sizes.


“I wanted to show people how easy it is to cook food from the market,” Mr. Donis said. “The recipes are simple and really focus on how anyone can cook a meal quickly and in a way that preserves the natural goodness of the local produce.”


Co-chair of the Urban Food Task Force Dawnita Altieri hopes the event will also raise awareness about food security and hunger in Washington, D.C.


“Our mission is to educate the GW community about nutrition and healthy food and to provide opportunities to learn about food and nutrition with our Civic Engagement team beyond the confines of campus,” Ms. Altieri said. “This year with Food Day, we have expanded our reach to other parts of Washington and hope to shed light on issues surrounding access to healthy food and nutrition.”