The Bethlehem Farmers’ Market is collaborating with the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month through live music, dance lessons and food.
Carlos Barata, the manager and organizer of the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market, said a partnership with the Hispanic Center is critical to the development of the community.
“The Hispanic Center provides so many services to the community,” Barata said. “We wanted to help bridge the gap between the Hispanic community and other demographics of the Lehigh Valley.”
The partnership at the farmers’ market began Sept. 20 and will continue through Oct. 15 at Farrington Square.
Barata said he noticed there were few community members, especially Latino or Hispanic residents, in attendance at the market. Barata said even after multiple marketing efforts, there was no apparent change.
“We want and need to show that we are proud to have the Hispanic community as a part of our community,” Barata said. “Not just here, but nationally as well.”
Although the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market has partnered with multiple organizations in the past, Barata said this is one of the more significant collaborations.
Bennie Eliason, the food pantry coordinator of the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley, said the timing of the collaboration could not have been any better.
“(The Hispanic Center has) been in the community for 50 years,” Eliason said. “It is a great time to showcase what the center is doing in the community and how we have grown.”
Some students, like Danni Hyman, ’19, who go to the market every week did not initially recognize there was a collaboration with the Hispanic Center. With a new awareness, Hyman said partnerships like this one have the ability to unite the greater Lehigh Valley with the university community.
“I often find that most of the shoppers are Lehigh students,” Hyman said. “I do enjoy, though, interacting with the vendors from around the Lehigh Valley and my fellow Lehigh students.”
Barata and Eliason said they hope that the partnership creates awareness of the Hispanic Center’s mission and outreach. Barata said she loves the support from the university and knows the farmer’s market will continue to break down barriers between the community and the university because they have “open doors, open arms.”
The Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley is located at 520 E. 4th St. and welcomes all to visit and tour the facilities.