Farmers’ Market on Wheels Brings Fresh Produce to Seniors
Over the past several months, many seniors have done their best to avoid crowded places. They want to limit their exposure to the virus that has made so many seniors ill.
And that includes grocery stores. Some seniors only go to those stores during off hours. Or during hours dedicated to at-risk individuals. Others have opted for deliveries.
Stocking up on nonperishables isn’t so difficult. But trying to keep fresh produce in the refrigerator and the kitchen is more challenging.
Fresh fruit and vegetables spoil much faster. Meaning more frequent trips to the store or more frequent deliveries.
‘Rollin’ Root’ delivers
In Marin County, California, a good idea to solve this problem is taking root. And it could become a model for the rest of the country.
It’s a farmers’ market on wheels. It travels across the county, delivering fresh produce to seniors and others in need.
The truck is being called “Rollin’ Root.” The Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) operates the truck. They also run a number of farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.
They target older adult communities. As well as “food desert” communities. That’s where there is limited access to local fresh and organic produce.
Up to 10 locations
When this mobile market began operating 18 months ago, the truck went out only once a week.
But with the pandemic, the demand has grown significantly. The truck now runs three days a week, delivering to 10 locations.
One of those locations is the Marin Valley Mobile Country Club. It’s a mobile home park for seniors in Novato, California.
Residents wearing masks stand at least six feet apart as the truck approaches. When it’s their turn, each individual points out what they want and the staff bags it for them.
A ‘lifesaver’ in this era
Andy Naja-Riese is the chief executive officer of AIM. Here’s what he said. “Price and mobility are two of the largest barriers to being able to eat a healthy diet here in the Bay Area.”
One of the shoppers is Tara Plocher. She volunteers as an ambassador to connect Rollin’ Root with the community. “Their prices are good,” she said.
Mary Barbosa is one of the shoppers. She called the program a “lifesaver” during the pandemic era in which we’re living.
Other groups also benefit from the program. Including those living in the Maria B. Freitas Senior Community in San Rafael.
An added benefit
Some shoppers are thankful the program accepts CalFresh. It was previously known as food stamps.
Naja-Reise said, “We also provide a market match. So we match up to $10 (per day) for CalFresh cardholders. That’s for free fruits and vegetables.”
Healthy food is not the only thing that’s being delivered to those in need, according to AIM Manager Karima Hay.
“We’re able to help spread joy to communities because they kind of use this as their time out of the house,” she said.
“Especially right now, this is like their grocery trip. And they get to see all their (neighborhood) friends while they’re doing it.”
Donations make it possible
How does AIM stay profitable with deliveries and bargain prices? The Rollin’ Root truck is subsidized by foundation grants.
The program also receives support from donations. They are made by individuals and businesses in the area.
Steve Plocher is another one of the shoppers. He believes this is an idea that should expand in order to benefit more people.
“They should do this everywhere,” he said. “It’s like delivery, only you get to pick out your own stuff.”
Safer and less expensive
Chances are, you don’t have a traveling farmers’ market in your neighborhood. Maybe someday, but not yet.
That makes it even more important to source and/or grow your own food. In addition to keeping you out of crowded stores, it will provide more food security. Especially at a time when stores may have empty shelves again soon.
Farmers’ markets are generally a safer place to purchase locally grown produce. Because they are mostly outdoors.
And prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are usually lower at farmers’ markets. Because you don’t pay a middleman.
Grow your own food
Of course, if you can grow your own fruits and vegetables, even better. That gives you even more control over what and when you eat.
Planting and maintaining a garden is not easy work. There are challenges, including weather, rodents, rabbits, squirrels and insects.
But the feeling of accomplishment and self-sufficiency can override those issues. Having your own garden is a major step toward self-reliance.
5 reasons to do it
The University of New Hampshire offers these five reasons to grow your own food. Whether it’s a single plant or a full garden.
Nutrition – Fresh, raw food maintains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Much better than food that is treated, transported and shelved before sitting in a store.
Activity – The physical activity and fresh air you get from gardening can aid your cardiac health. And your immune system response. It can also decrease your stress and anxiety. And improve your motor skills.
Vitamin D – A remark too many of us hear from our doctors during annual exams is, “You need more Vitamin D.” Nothing provides it as well as sunshine. Vitamin D helps us maintain healthy bones and teeth.
Environment – Mass-producing fruits and vegetables often means chemicals, pesticides and travel. All of which negatively affect the environment.
Savings – The money spent on seeds, plants and supplies will be far less than what you spend on vegetables and fruits at stores.
Victory Garden Seed Collection
Speaking of seeds, 4Patriots offers an affordable Victory Garden Seed Collection. It includes eight varieties of hardy heirloom seeds passed down from our forefathers.
Included among the 2,890 survival seeds are those that will produce tomatoes and carrots. Plus lettuce, broccoli, pepper, corn, cauliflower and kale.
The seeds are sealed in space-age Mylar so you can start your garden now or years from now.