Quantcast

City considers shuttle for farmers’ markets

Residents of Evanston’s West Side would be able to take a free shuttle to the big Saturday downtown farmers’ market next year under a plan proposed by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Dept., according to its director, Doug Gaynor.

Residents of Evanston’s West Side would be able to take a free shuttle to the big Saturday downtown farmers’ market next year under a plan proposed by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Dept., according to its director, Doug Gaynor.

By the same token, residents in various city neighborhoods would be able to ride the shuttle from their homes to the West End market at Church Street and Dodge Avenue, Gaynor told a meeting of the Friends of the Evanston Markets today.

Because his department already owns the buses, the only marginal expense for the program would be the labor cost for the drivers, he said. The shuttle would run a regular route through the city while the markets were in operation, he added.

The shuttles would serve a dual purpose. It would make the downtown market more accessible to persons of limited financial means, and it would presumably draw more customers to the struggling West End market.

Zollie Webb, the city employee who manages the downtown market, noted that programs are available to help low-income residents purchase fresh produce at the markets. One program, the federally financed and state administered Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, provides vouchers to persons over 60 who have household incomes of not more than 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. These vouchers are distributed by the city at the Levy Center.

The Illinois Link Program distributes food and cash assistance benefits authorized under several federal and state programs. Eligible participants receive a Link card that they swipe at a terminal operated by the city’s customer service staff at the market that prints chits they can use to purchase eligible food items from farmers.

Webb and Gaynor stressed that the shuttle program at this point is just a proposal that needs approval within the city’s usual budgeting process and is not yet a “done deal.”

The downtown market operates from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the West End market is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both markets are open weekly on Saturdays.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

Editors’ Picks