Nutrition and Food Access

Erie County Department of Health works with community partners to help provide Erie County residents with access to nutritious food through different ways.

Local Farmers Markets

Produce that is sold at local farmers markets are usually fully ripe and picked within 24 hours of selling, which makes them more nutritious.

Shopping at local farmers markets also helps support the local economy, reduces environmental strain, and helps build social connections with your neighbors!


Visit these sites to find local farmers markets near you:

Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is part of the benefits of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Eligible WIC participants and seniors can use FMNP coupons to buy eligible foods from approved farmers, farmers markets or roadside stands.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

For eligible low-income households, use SNAP to increase the food you can purchase to get a more nutritious diet. Eligible residents receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases.

Benefits can also be used to buy plants and seeds to grow nutritious food at home.

For assistance with SNAP in Erie County, contact
Erie County Assistance Office
1316 Holland St., Erie

Other Resources

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) aims to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to healthcare. To find out if you qualify, visit


For a list of food pantries and other emergency food resources, contact
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
⋅ 814-459-3663

Spend Smart, Eat Smart is a website that helps you budget, plan and cook healthy and delicious recipes. Visit

Responding to Food Deserts

For tens of thousands of Erie residents, access to healthy, affordable foods is a real challenge. Food deserts, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, are areas where at least 33% of residents live one mile or more from the nearest grocery store or supermarket.

Food deserts tend to be more concentrated in low-income, minority neighborhoods, where residents often lack access to a vehicle or reliable transportation. With fewer supermarkets and grocery stores and a higher concentration of small convenience stores located in food deserts, access to healthy, affordable foods is a growing problem. Many corner stores offer highly processed, packaged, high-fat, high-salt or high-sugar food and drinks. Without access to the foods that make up a healthy diet, individuals are more likely to be overweight, experience poor health, and have increased risks of many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Use the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas to see locations of food deserts in the country. This free tool shows areas of low income and low access (by distance and vehicle access), in addition to census information by clicking a given area.

The Erie County Department of Health is working to make healthy, sustainable improvements in our community through education, promotion and community outreach. For more information, call 814-451-6700 or email