It is Mobile Produce Pantry season at Second Harvest! It is not a new program, but the name change this year from Farmer’s Market to Mobile Produce Pantry is one that we hope will help to better describe the program. “We feel that Mobile Produce Pantry more accurately represents what we do”, said Samantha Flores, Second Harvest’s Program & Member Services Manager. “There was a lot of confusion about the Farmer’s Markets, “Samantha added. “Our partner charities were fielding calls constantly from clients and potential vendors thinking they were traditional for-profits Farmer’s Markets.”
Based on extensive research by our national organization, Feeding America, we know the most readily available source of food donations to food banks is produce. Billions of pounds of food go un-harvested in our country and in Ohio which could be utilized by food banks to alleviate hunger. As a result of our participation in the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program as well as our relationships with produce farmers in our region, specifically
Buurma Farms and Weir/Dutch Maid Farms in Willard, Ohio, located in southwestern Huron County, we purchase produce that would normally remain un-harvested, to use for the Mobile Produce Markets throughout the season. This allows us to purchase fresh, just-out-of-the-ground produce at cost. This helps the farmers by recovering some of their costs; the community, by keeping their workers and pickers employed; and our Mobile Produce Market clients because they will receive healthy, nutritious produce.
Produce currently makes up 34 percent of the food distributed on a whole and has allowed us to significantly change the nutritional make-up of the food distributed to families at-risk for hunger. With so many health benefits correlated with eating a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetable we are fortunate to be able to work with local farmers and growers to put this nutritious food in the hands of families who might not otherwise be able to access it.
Samantha notes that there are almost 100 Mobile Produce Pantries scheduled this year between July and October throughout the region. “Last year,” she says, “We distributed 850,000 pounds of produce. This year, we hope we can give out a million pounds.”