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Mars Food announces $115K grant to support food nutrition and sustainability in DC

The grant is to help tackle food disparities and support sustainable community-based farming in Wards 7 and 8 in DC.
Credit: WUSA9

WASHINGTON -- Mar's Food organic brand Seeds of Change announced a $115,000 grant given to DC nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) on Friday in a partnership for healthier communities in Wards 7 and 8.

Building Bridges Across the River is a nonprofit that was created to help tackle food disparities and support nutrition education in the district. 

Out of 49 grocery stores in Washington, DC, only two are located in Ward 7 and one is located in Ward 8.

 "We have started seven urban farms all in Southeast DC," said Scott Kratz, VP of Building Bridges Across the River.

The farms will be part of a larger initiative to support urban agriculture on the future 11th Street Bridge Park. Katz said it was important to begin to teach the community urban agriculture now rather than wait for the park to open.

"This is important because Ward 8 only has one grocery store serving 85,000 residents so providing access to healthy food is critical," said Kratz.

Everything from kale to strawberries, basil, watermelon, will be grown on the farms. The partnership will support food and nutrition literacy programming in this food desert, according to the press release.

This grant follows a $500,000 grant in Chicago to support gardening and farm-to-table education programs in Chicago's Public School system. Mar's food has a commitment to create access to nutritious and sustainable food for communities across the country.

"Food doesn't necessarily come from the grocery store, it comes right here from the ground," Katz said.

Over 30 years, the company has donated nearly $2 million toward school gardening programs and helping more than 100,000 people grow over 90 tons of produce.

The grant will fund free programs offered to the residents including cooking classes, composting, herbalism and farm/garden maintenance workshops and an intern program to assist in maintaining the gardens and learning vital skills for urban farming.

Food deserts make up about 11% of DC's total area and are mostly concentrated in Wards 7 and 8 according to DC Policy Center.