Mobile farmers market targets area hunger
As Sally Leslie pulled up her vehicle to the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank mobile farmers market on Wednesday morning, food bank volunteers loaded her car with a variety of fresh produce at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
The 74-year-old from Marietta uses a tiny amount of the produce for herself, but she also donates it to other people in need within the local area.
“The people that I give this too, they don’t get fresh fruit because they don’t have the money for it,” said Leslie. “Anything edible is great and I don’t mind running around with it because I’m healthy and I can.”
The Southeastern Ohio Food Bank is a program within the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action which serves as the main food bank for the 10-county region.
According to Mallory Ferguson, community relations specialist, the mobile farmers market is a piece of a five-part series in the county funded by the Marietta Community Foundation, as a part of its initiative to fight against hunger in Southeastern Ohio.
The mobile market is for all income eligible residents of Washington County.
“They have to be within 200 percent of the federal income guidelines of poverty,” said Ferguson. “It’s a self-declared form where you have to show a proof of ID and residency that they are indeed a Washington County resident.”
The food bank hosted a mobile market last month at The Armory on Front Street in Marietta, and will host its next food distribution in December.
The date and location for next month’s mobile market has yet to be determined but will be announced within the next few weeks.
This month’s mobile farmers market was from 10 a.m. until noon where the local residents could receive as much food as they needed.
“They’re allowed to take as much as they need,” said Ferguson. “We really try to make sure that everyone who come gets something, but at the end of the day they can take whatever their need is.”
The mobile market receives food from the Agricultural Clearance Program which provided residents with celery, apples, two types of squash, Diet Pepsi and Triscuits this month.
Driver and delivery man for the food bank, Monte Hixenbaugh, said he has been driving across the 10 counties in Southeastern Ohio for two years and from that he said he has truly learned to appreciate what he has.
“I’ve seen a lot and you don’t really know how lucky you are,” said Hixenbaugh.
Leslie explained how she is a new resident to the local area and is amazed by the community’s volunteer work.
“The level that this helps me out…I am fairly new to the community and this was not in my old community,” said Leslie. “This is fabulous morale to the area, the people in this county do more for their seniors than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Due to the need for food in the local area, Ferguson said the mobile market helps to fill in gaps for the residents.
“There’s a lot of need in the area and it helps fill in the gaps for individuals who may need a little extra help,” said Ferguson. “It’s also important because we are able to get a lot of fresh produce to our clients and the people we serve.”
Beverly Bradley, 67, of Marietta said she is grateful for food banks such as this one.
“I think they are fantastic for people who live on a fixed income like me,” she said. “With prices going up it’s nice to be able to have fresh produce. This helps you stretch your budget because buying groceries can be very expensive.”
Ferguson said the food bank is always open to new volunteers.
“We have a lot of different volunteer opportunities, but with this program we take volunteers and we also allow people to fund mobile farmers markets,” she said.
Volunteers can help in a variety of different ways such as packing boxes, helping at local produce distributions, becoming Ohio Benefit Bank counselors, preparing meals in the Central Kitchen and much more.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer or funder for a mobile farmer’s market can contact 740-385-6813.
How to volunteer
¯If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer or funding a mobile market for the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank contact Mallory Ferguson at email@example.com or 740-385-6813.
¯The next food distribution in Washington County will be in December. The date and place has not yet been determined.
Source: Mallory Ferguson.