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A Common Market team member delivers fresh, healthy food.

The Common Market: Supporting Families with Access to Healthy Food

Project overview

Access to fresh, healthy foods is a major factor in overall health and life expectancy. For children and families in low-income neighborhoods across the country, nutritious, affordable, and high-quality food is often out of reach. We support The Common Market, a regional food distributor, in connecting communities with nutritious foods from sustainable family farms. Their work helps to provide a vital bridge in the food supply chain, connecting small farmers with local institutions to bring quality food to the people who need it most.


The Common Market bridges the gap for local farmers to get our food into the local community. The Food that we sell to them helps to distribute naturally grown, clean, nutritious food and we’re so proud of that.

Darrell Copeland, West Georgia Farmers Co-op

How it helps

People living in low-income neighborhoods and rural communities face much greater challenges in accessing healthy foods. By increasing local and fresh food options in “anchor institutions” where communities eat, we can increase the health of large numbers of people.

Most anchor institutions (like schools and hospitals) contract their food service operations out to national or international food service management companies (FSMCs). Despite the increased demand from consumers for locally- and regionally-produced food, FSMCs have found it challenging to purchase meaningful quantities from regional providers. Meanwhile, small farmers are struggling to keep their farms viable, forcing many to seek multiple sources of income or even sell their land.

The Common Market has developed an innovative solution to these problems in the food system by creating a mutually beneficial link between family farmers and urban communities. As a food hub, their model overcomes the multiple barriers that stand between local institutions and the food grown in their region. Not only do they work with institutions to help them increase local food purchases, they also help farmers earn quality certifications and implement best practices in managing food distribution.

Year-round, The Common Market receives food from regional producers, then stores and packs it in warehouses before heading to customers’ loading docks. Each day, thousands of pounds of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products make their way to schools, hospitals, and the shelves of local grocery stores. Their model is now nationally recognized for successfully connecting family farms to communities to improve food access and farm viability.

Foundation Project Lead