While nutritionists have long urged Americans to eat more organic foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, some African-American communities face economic disparities that make quality grocery stores scarce. In place of stores that sell healthful foods are fast food chains and corners stores where high-calorie, sugar-laden snacks are standard.

To combat the imbalance, Howard University Hospital is hosting a farmer’s market in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 1 each week until November to make foods like grapes, broccoli, peaches and tomatoes more accessible to local residents.
The market, which debuted May 11, includes items from regional farmers, said Davene White, director of nursing maternal child health and director of HUH CARES.

“We’re bringing in regional farmers from Pennsylvania and North Carolina who will be offering wonderful produce that is of the highest quality,” said White in a press release. “You won’t get this caliber in a grocery store. Unfortunately, in so many of our neighborhoods, residents don’t have access to this food, because stores don’t offer it. We’re trying to fill that gap.”

Dr. Denia Tapscott, a bariatrician and program director for the Center for Wellness and Weight Loss Surgery at Howard University Hospital, said the Farmer’s Market will provide an invaluable resource in the predominately African-American community.

“As you know, obesity is a huge issue for the nation, and particularly for African Americans. One of the contributing factors to obesity is lack of good nutrients.”

The farmer’s market takes place 3 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Friday in the hospital courtyard, 2041 Georgia Ave. N.W., D.C. For more information, visit huhealthcare.com.