The city of Long Beach will provide six markets in underserved neighborhoods with free, fresh produce for three months to be sold at or below the cost of retail stores as part of an effort to increase access to healthy, affordable food.

Specific markets have not been named yet, but they will likely be in Central, North and West Long Beach. Those areas have been identified by the city as low-income and have historically struggled with having healthy food options available.

Markets selected to participate will receive the produce for free and a custom-designed “Health Shelf” for display. If markets commit to joining the Long Beach Healthy Market Partnership, they can be eligible to receive free produce for six months, according to Long Beach Health Department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein in a statement.

The project will be executed by the Long Beach Health Department and Long Beach Fresh, a nonprofit community organization focused on connecting Long Beach residents to fresh, affordable food.

Long Beach Fresh identified local farms and farmers market partners to create a wholesale list and price paid to each farm, Epstein said.

Funding for the project will come from the Long Beach Recovery Act, a COVID-19 recovery program that allocates local, state, and federal funds to programs addressing needs within the city post-pandemic.

After the project’s conclusion, the hope is the markets will continue to offer those items with the system of procurement that has been created, which would bypass additional fees and delivery inaccessibility that small markets often face, Epstein said.

Recently, the city put out a search for bidders to operate mobile food markets multiple days a week in areas with poor food access. That project and this initiative are part of the city’s Racial and Reconciliation Initiative which was adopted in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd.

Interested market owners can email [email protected]