Fabulous Farmers Market Food Distribution Program Brings More Produce to IFPO Clients
IFPO jumped when nominated by the Community FoodBank (CFB) to receive free pallets of produce on a monthly basis as part of a CFB pilot program from May through the mid-Fall. The program's goal is to provide more healthy options to people in food insecure communities, like Orange and East Orange. We are extremely grateful that the produce at our site is now sponsored by our fabulous partner Summit Medical Group Foundation .
If cost and storage were not an issue, most clients say they prefer the taste and texture of fresh vegetables and fruits to canned. Canned produce often has more sodium than fresh, and canned fruits are often packed in sugar.
On May 31, when we received four full pallets of vegetables, more than 260 IFPO clients received generous amounts of onions, potatoes, cabbages and apples. They also could choose fresh pressed green juices and teas, as well as other commodities we received that day from CFB including apple sauce and sauces. We shared the produce bounty with the Church of the Epiphany Thursday Soup Kitchen as well as their Saturday Food Pantry. Orange Police Officer Lop brought produce to an Orange Senior Center, and Worldwide Orphans distributed apples at the Orange Library after school program.
On June 28, IFPO clients received shallots, potatoes, 5 pound bags of carrots and watermelons! We significantly increased the quantity of each fresh item offered that day to each client at our own pantry - though we worried how our clients would carry everything home - and were able to successfully distribute five pallets at our own site!
On July 26, our 282 clients took home pallets of zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages and watermelons, as well as lemonade. We were thrilled to have Joe Finocchiaro, Executive Director of SMG Foundation, join us to offer insight on how we could improve this program and brainstorm how they could support IFPO. Renee Helfenstein and Debby Scheinholtz of CFB also visited to see the Farmers Market program in action.
In addition to this program, IFPO is now receiving a limited quantity of summer bounty from Farm & Fork Society , a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. As New Jersey's summer growing season comes into full swing, our clients will have the possibility of choosing organic, locally sourced produce like swiss chard, sugarsnap peas, lettuces and fresh herbs. Thanks to Carpenter's Club super volunteer John Scott who is picking up our crop each week!
Giant zucchini, banana peppers and client-favorite eggplant arrived in our first two deliveries of the season from the Garden Club of t he Edward V. Walton School Early Childhood Center of Springfield Public Schools. We are so grateful for the support of both students and teachers from the Walton School, and to Lauren Fischer who spearheads this effort each year. We loved seeing the little bits of soil that clung to the banana peppers, a wonderful reminder to us all that food is actually grown, not manufactured.
On July 19th, we were thrilled to distribute 1,512 pounds of fresh peaches and 900 pounds of fresh North Carolina yams to our clients. We received these items as part of NJ State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). Funds for the purchase of healthy and nutritious foods to feed people affected by hunger are allocated each year in the NJ State budget.