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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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From Farm to Table Via Mass Transit

By Heather Redfern
SEPTA Press Officer

In Philadelphia, where more than 35 percent of the population relies on mass transit as its sole means of transportation and about 25 percent of residents live below the poverty level, accessing affordable, fresh and healthy foods is a challenge. SEPTA is working with the City and Philadelphia-based The Food Trust to help make farm fresh fruits and vegetables a staple of Philadelphians' diets.

On September 13, 2011, General Manager Joseph M. Casey joined Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Donald F. Schwarz at the grand opening of the Food Trust's farmers' market at SEPTA's Frankford Transportation Center (FTC) in Northeast Philadelphia. FTC is one of the Authority's busiest hubs, serving more than 16,000 riders a day on the Market-Frankford elevated line and almost 20 bus routes.

Flanked by children from local elementary schools, Nutter noted he was "incredibly excited" for the opening of the FTC site because it "combines access to healthy options with sustainable food systems, local economic growth and transit-oriented development."

The markets are part of the federally-funded Get Healthy Philly program designed to get Philadelphians involved in healthy lifestyles and prevent obesity. Currently, there are 25 Get Healthy Philly markets across the city, including 10 that opened in the past 16 months. In addition the FTC site, the Authority hosts a market at its Olney Transportation Center in North Philadelphia. And all of the Get Healthy Philly markets are located near SEPTA train, trolley and bus stops.

In addition to the Food Trust markets, SEPTA leased land next to its 46th Street Market Frankford Line station in West Philadelphia to The Enterprise Center for the Walnut Hill Community Farm, a youth cooperative that farms the land and sells the produce at that station and at the Authority's Center City headquarters.

"Improving access to fresh local foods at our stations is one of the social goals outlined in SEPTA's Sustainability Plan," said Casey. "We realize that, as our region's primary transportation services provider, we play a key role in the challenge of getting our riders to fresh fruits and vegetables. Without these farmers' markets, many of our passengers would be limited in their options of taking healthy foods home to their families."

The Authority also helps bring healthy foods to its employees by sponsoring the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) "Farm to SEPTA" program at its headquarters. Farm to SEPTA, a partnership with three groups, enabled the Authority's employees to purchase biweekly shares from the Walnut Hill Farm.

SEPTA's involvement with the farmers' markets and the CSA program demonstrates the expanded role mass transit can have in its communities. "We are doing more than moving passengers from one point to another," said Casey. "We are helping to introduce our customers to better food choices by bringing more nutritious foods to locations that are more accessible and convenient for them and we are promoting our regional economy by working with local farmers. SEPTA is pleased to be involved with this worthwhile initiative."

After the ceremony at FTC, Casey and the elected officials made the market's first purchases of the day, buying apples and peaches. As Nutter said, "Nothing beats a good peach."


Mayor Michael Nutter



SEPTA GM Joseph M. Casey



Casey and Nutter browse a market stand.



Casey looks over the fresh peaches for sale.



A wide variety of products are available at the market.