Once a month at Moten Elementary School in Southeast, D.C. and in 28 other elementary schools east of the river, families can get free groceries.

Martha’s Table’s Joyful Food Market offers groceries for each student, cooking demonstrations, and recipes.

“We recognize there is a huge disparity in Wards 7 and 8,” said Lindsay Morton Assistant Director of the Healthy Market Program. “Both combined only have three full grocery stores. We partner with the Capital Area Food Bank and local farmer, so every family will walk away with 40 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

HEART HEALTH: Making healthy choices in the kitchen

The pilot program started at Moten in 2013. Since then organizers have found an increase in the consumption of healthy foods.

At first, about 30 percent of families reported eating fruits and vegetables weekly, now that number has increased to 74 percent.

“The same goes for food insecurity, meaning families who ran out of money to buy food, that number went down. So we are seeing that the food market is bridging the gap and becoming an asset,” explained Morton.

Program organizers hope to expand to 48 schools soon.