SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady Greenmarket will host its first fundraiser since before the pandemic on Tuesday at Great Flats Brewing in Schenectady. All money raised will go towards the market’s efforts related to food access, anti-racism and education.
“This fundraiser is really to center on our strategic goals for 2023. The first being healthy food access, which folks are aware of our food box program which launched last year. Funding would definitely help expand that,” said Cheryl Whitby, executive director of development and finance. “But also other food access initiatives we’re involved with. For example, the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, accepting fresh connect checks and double-up food bucks.”
The money raised will support training staff and volunteers in those affordable food programs, as well as make it easier for staff to participate in community conversations where they can spread the word about such programs.
The market has an anti-racist mission and remains committed to uplifting a diverse group of vendors. Whitby recently participated in a work group with other Black food-system leaders across the nation where they created an anti-racist toolkit for farmers’ markets.
“Since launching that, I’ve really been trying to use my role to implement some of the teachings of this toolkit,” Whitby said. “We’re looking to increase our work to support Black and indigenous POC vendors at our market. We know farmers’ market spaces are predominantly white still. Yes we have this toolkit but there needs to be conversations with our board and our staff about what it means to move that mission forward.”
In addition, the market seeks to educate community members about fresh food and local farmers’ work with a focus on youth impact.
“The last piece is education, where folks are aware of our kids table, Art in Bloom and all these beautiful opportunities for youth to engage in the market,” Whitby said. “So the fundraiser is also a way for us to boost these opportunities of connection with youth. We are specifically looking to inspire at least 100 youth to develop an appreciation for farmers, farmers’ markets and our local food system.”
Most recently, the Greenmarket was involved in the Schenectady City School District’s FIRE chefs program. Participating students received market vouchers to purchase local produce and products to use in their recipes at home.
Another educational initiative is including recipe cards in the food boxes given out by the market. This way, recipients can learn ways to incorporate produce they possibly haven’t seen before.
“It gives a little boost of encouragement,” Whitby said.
The event will have tacos from Greenmarket vendor Flaco’s Tacos and musical stylings from DJ RVMBA, another Greenmarket regular.
“I’m most looking forward to being in the community with folks who have supported us over the years,” Whitby said. “A lot of times with folks who donate, there isn’t always the opportunity for an in-person connection. So I’m looking forward to sharing with them in person all that their contributions have helped us accomplish over the years.”