NERSTRAND, Minn. — The Marshall Farmers’ Market in Marshall, Minnesota is partnering with its local university, Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), to reduce food insecurity on campus. SMSU students who visit the Mustang Market, SMSU’s permanent food resource pantry, can receive $1 vouchers, which can be redeemed with participating vendors at the Marshall Farmers’ Market.
“A larger portion of our students struggle with food insecurity than many people realize,” said Melissa Scholten, Director of Career Services and the Center for Civic & Community Engagement. “It can be very difficult to do well academically if basic needs like food and nutrition needs are not being met.”
Back in 2017, Healthy56258 and SMSU began a workgroup consisting of campus and community leaders called the Nutrition Network. The workgroup was tasked with investigating ways to identify and address food insecurity among students. This work led to the hiring of an AmeriCorps VISTA to study the needs, and eventually the implementation of the Mustang Market. The Mustang Market, which was initially funded with internal SMSU grant funds, is now sustained by generous donations.
The idea of partnering with the Marshall Farmers’ Market was originated by SMSU students who are regularly asked for feedback about the pantry. According to student feedback, the pantry is a great resource, but adding in an option for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy staples would be a great next step.
According to Marshall Farmers’ Market staff, the program was easy to implement since they have a strong EBT/SNAP food assistance program already in place at the Marshall Farmers’ Market, and the Mustang Market Bucks option will operate similarly. According to Marshall Market Coordinator Kim Guenther, this program is a win for everyone. “We’re very excited to initiate this partnership with SMSU,” said Guenther. “We get to support students in supporting food security and in making healthy food choices, and support our local growers. The money spent by SMSU for this program will stay right here in our local community, which has economic value. And the Marshall Farmers’ Market is a hub for community connectivity, so we would love to see more SMSU students come check it out!”
The Marshall Farmers’ Market, a member of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA), is open on Saturday mornings from 7:30a.m. to Noon through the end of October, and located at 200 S. A Street in Marshall.
The Mustang Market on the SMSU campus is open once a month and by appointment for students and offered to supplement limited food budgets while in school.
About the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association
The Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) provides services, programs, and leadership that support and promote farmers’ markets across Minnesota. The organization works to foster a community of vibrant, profitable and professionally managed Minnesota farmers’ markets which cultivate, nourish and inspire a vibrant local foods landscape. The MFMA vision is to create greater accessibility to local, farm-fresh foods and to allow opportunities for local food producers to thrive and grow. For a listing of all farmers’ markets across Minnesota visit www.mfma.org.