Community program

Gem City Market Launches Weekly Community Program for New and Expectant Mothers

The Gem City Market launched Mamas to the market on Thursday. The program provides community resources for new mothers and mothers-to-be. One of them is to help eligible women register for WIC benefits at the market.

For new mothers receiving federal assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, it can be difficult to determine which foods are eligible. Advocates say consistent access to health and nutrition resources can also be difficult with limited income.

That’s why Gem City Market — which recently began accepting WIC vouchers — has partnered with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, Mamas at the Market. The program aims to support infant vitality through community resources.

Some of these resources include a partnership with Dayton Cooks — a culinary service that offers cooking training free of charge. Instructors will teach new mothers cooking recipes they can cook with WIC-eligible produce in the market’s community kitchen.

Jericia Colvin is part of a doula collaboration in Dayton called Tribe. She is part of another organization that has partnered with Mamas at the Market. Colvin said creating a proper birth plan is key to a successful pregnancy.

“We are here to provide moms with spiritual, emotional and physical support during labor,” she said. “To make sure they are informed about their bodies, to teach them to have a voice and to educate them about pregnancy.”

Emma Smales, birth outcomes manager at Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, said better access to resources means better early health outcomes for new mothers.

“We know the importance of providing nutritious food during pregnancy. It can prevent things like hypertension or gestational diabetes. And when we prevent these things, it means healthy births and a drop in our maternal mortality rate,” Smales said.

According to, there are more than 280,000 Ohioans enrolled in Medicaid and SNAP who may also be eligible to receive WIC benefits, but there are limits. In Ohio, WIC is available to families whose household income is 185% below the federal poverty level.

To help facilitate the application process, public health social workers will be at the Market Health Clinic to register new participants and provide assistance with purchases.

Mamas at the Market will take place every Thursday at Gem City Market. There is more information on Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health and the Gem City market.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support for WYSO’s reports on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.