Market provides fresh alternative

After reading about it in a newspaper, Champaign resident Hakim Mahammed drove a few miles to the new farmer’s market in downtown Champaign on Thursday to taste the fresh food.

The organizers have coordinated 21 vendors, offering fresh produce and fruits, free-range chicken and other meats, baked goods, barbecue and a variety of crafts.

We applaud the organizers for creating an option for local residents to purchase fresh produce.

This improved access to fresh produce for low-income families, college students and others affected by the recession encourages a healthy lifestyle that everyone deserves.

According to a 2006 study, low income teenagers are 50 percent more likely to be obese than their upper-income peers.

Even if families receive assistance through food stamps, cost and transportation are both barriers to access to health eating. Poor neighborhoods often do not have full-service grocery stores and even if they do, the fruits and vegetables tend to be costly.

This farmers’ market also accepts electronic benefits transfer cards, an aspect of the federal governments new food stamps program.

While opening a farmer’s market for those in need in Champaign is a helpful step in the right direction, the solution to the many problems of financially struggling are residents is still far down the road.

Unemployment in Illinois jumped above 10 percent for the first time in decades during the month of May, and the need for assistance both for and from the community has never been higher.

We hope that throughout a summer of layoffs and increasing financial stress that both the Champaign and Urbana governments and communities continue to step up and answer the rising and already present need.