Gryffin Wilkens-Plumley, Contributing Photographer

Just a few blocks past Payne Whitney Gym on Dixwell Avenue, the Q House farmers market strives each Wednesday to offer a variety of nutritious foods at affordable prices in an effort to combat food insecurity. 

The market is a partnership between CitySeed — a local nonprofit that runs farmers markets throughout the city — and the Dixwell Community House, known as the Q House. Customers at the Q House market can use its special grant-funded cash and card doubling system, in addition to Yale coupons and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, doubling to purchase groceries.

“One thing that we always tried to focus on is people with SNAP benefits,” Sandy Flores, the assistant market manager for CitySeed said. 

SNAP is a federal government program that provides low-income people with financial support for certain nutritional foods. Flores explained that any customers with a SNAP card can double the money on their cards and buy foods and produce at the market. 

Grants for SNAP doubling at some farmers markets including the Q House farmers market come from End Hunger Connecticut, Flores told the News. The market also accepts nutritional assistance funds from customers through the Women, Infants and Children program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program are both accepted. But these programs, Flores said, are not able to allow customers to double funds at the market.

Karen Comstock, a volunteer at CitySeed’s farmers market at the Dixwell Q House, also noted that any Yale affiliate can use $5 coupons to shop at the market. She said that Yale affiliates can obtain these coupons at the market.

The coupons came from a grant Yale provided to the market earlier this year and are only available at the Q House location of CitySeed’s markets, according to Comstock. 

“People are going ‘Oh, I can’t take it from you’ — Yale gave it to us for you guys to spend here,” Comstock said. “It’s not really smiled upon, but we don’t say no.”

CitySeed is a New Haven-based non-profit that runs five farmers markets in New Haven, three of which — the Q House, Wooster Square and Edgewood Park — are currently in season. 

CitySeed’s Sandy Flores also works with Sanctuary Kitchen, a subsidiary of CitySeed. She spent eight years as a high school volunteer before starting to work for the organization full-time last year. 

At the stall with Flores and Comstock was an array of breads, sauces, cookies and pastries, all under the “Sanctuary Kitchen” label. 

“It’s basically refugee women trying to gain economic opportunity through their culture and food,” Flores said of Sanctuary Kitchen. 

Flores works as the head volunteer coordinator, as a Spanish interpreter and in development for Sanctuary Kitchen, which started in 2017. 

Sanctuary Kitchen fulfills orders for pre-made meals with curb-side pickup, and is located at 109 Legion Ave. 

“For anyone who would like somewhere to go each week because they’re homesick, or as a touchstone … Sanctuary Kitchen would give them contact each week with some really nice women from other countries,” Comstock said. 

Angelina Campos, deputy director of the Dixwell Q House, also spoke with the News about the Center’s history and service to the community.

Campos explained that the original Community House, nicknamed by local children as the “Q House,” dates back to 1924. In the early 2000s, it fell out of use due to a lack of funding

The new Q House opened in 2021. The building is owned by the city, but is managed by Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership, a youth education non-profit. 

The building also hosts the city-managed Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center, Stetson Public Library and the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center. 

The House provides an array of amenities to Dixwell and Newhallville residents, from after-school programs for kids to painting, fitness, yoga, pilates and dance classes, including capoeira — Brazilian dance-fighting.

Campos emphasized that Yale students can get involved at the Q House by volunteering regularly, such as being a counselor for after-school programs.

CitySeed farmers markets operate at Wooster Square on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Edgewood Park on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Q House on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.