ROCKFORD (WREX) — A summer favorite is back in the Stateline. Rockford Midtown Market has more than fresh farm food at its table, its leaders hope to reach people in need and build for the future.
In the Midtown District in downtown Rockford, leaders recognize the heightened need for access to affordable and healthier food.
"This is an income challenged area," said Katie's Cup Administrator Heather Ashcraft. "As businesses and organizations, and residents tended to head to different parts of the city, unfortunately the Midtown District got a little left behind."
"The history of white flight in Rockford and in all the cities in the United States reflects a neighborhood and community that continues to need economic options," said Zion Lutheran Church Pastor and Midtown Market Board Member Michael Thomas.
"There is a little bit of a food desert here so being able to bring that fresh produce, the fruits, the vegetables, that's a big part of it but we wanted to go further than that," said Ashcraft.
Ashcraft believes in the Midtown neighborhood and in 2018 she helped start Midtown Market. The local famers market is now in its fourth season and organizers wanted to focus on health and wellness resources.
"Medical services, health services, screenings, trainings: this year we are partnering with the Winnebago County Health Department and they will be coming in to do training on NARCAN," said Ashcraft.
Market Manager Allyson Rosemore explained a new feature at the market this season. "This year we are offering SNAP here at the market as well as the Link Up Illinois Program," said Rosemore. She went on to say with every dollar spent using SNAP, the Link Up Illinois Program will match a dollar up to $25 to be used on other fresh produce in the state.
If visitors don't see what they need, organizers want to hear it so they can bring those needs to the table.
"It’s our responsibility as market management and as a community to build spaces that are welcoming and affirming to our whole community," said Rosemore.
"Spaces to meet, to discuss, to find those common grounds even if it’s over the next batch of fresh apples," said Ashcraft.
Midtown Market organizers hope to build a new and improved food system to create a stronger and healthier Midtown.
Midtown Market is looking for more vendors to join its team this season. Click here to learn about vendor space.
The farmers market will be held every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rockford Public School 205's parking lot located off of Seventh Street in Rockford until Sept. 30.
Along with being a part of Midtown Market, Katie's Cup offers programs and community events. The coffee shop will have a fundraiser this Saturday during its monthly Cars & Coffee event. Proceeds will go to Katie's Cup programs aimed at serving the needs of the community.