The Crusader Newspaper Group

Farmers Markets to address Lake County food deserts

Starting in June, Lake County Eats Local will begin hosting weekly farmers markets to address food accessibility in East Chicago and Gary.

The program, funded by a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture, is a partnership between East Chicago, Gary, Legacy Foundation, the NWI Food Council and Purdue University Cooperative Extension. The program aims to increase revenue and sustainability in the two Lake County cities.

Bushra Rehman, Legacy Foundation’s community development director, has played an instrumental role in setting up the program. “It’s taken a large effort to set up such a comprehensive program,” Rehman said. “We’ve worked hard to establish on-site and on-the-go locations that will benefit both communities.”

The goal of Lake County Eats Local is to increase accessibility of fresh produce by offering two markets a week for a 16-week period during the summer, and weekly on-the-go markets throughout the year. Markets will be located along bus routes in both cities, making them easily accessible to residents. Locations include Unity Plaza and Washington Park in East Chicago, and the YWCA and ArtHouse in Gary.

To increase affordability, vendors will be accepting payment options including EBT, SNAP, WIC and senior vouchers. The “Double-Up Bucks” program will be introduced later in the market season, providing shoppers with the opportunity to receive free produce and other special market offers.

“The positive response we’ve received from farmers and local community garden leaders has been motivating and encouraging,” Rehman said. “We’re excited to be a part of such a worthwhile initiative.”

Market dates and locations, vendor list and vendor application can be found at For more information, please email [email protected] or call 219-613-3309.

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