A hand out. A term for the record, I would like to say is archaic and extraneous.
A passerby often looks onto the long row of pallets of fresh fruit and vegetables, clients holding shopping bags, and perceive to see a hand out before them. I hear all the time, “That’s great you are handing out free fruits and vegetables to those in need!” Defining Fresh Connect in those terms would be unfair because it has grown to be so much more.
The free mobile farmers market which started in April 2017 has hosted over 17,000 visits between its three site locations in Ottsville, Warminster, and Bristol. The program has distributed over 450,000 pounds of fresh produce to hungry neighbors in need in Bucks County.
As the site coordinator, I witnessed week after week a sense of community begin to form. Volunteers knowing clients’ names and stories by heart, clients coming early to talk to their neighbors in line, and photos of delectable dishes being shared amongst participants. The air of excitement is contagious when we arrive on site to see what the nutrionists will be providing a sample of, giving new ideas of what to do with the produce they will receive that day. Fresh Connect suddenly became more than a place to go to get free produce; it became a safe, open space for a community to come together, make new connections, and begin to thrive.
We recently asked clients, “Does Fresh Connect make a difference in your life?” Below are 6 stories of how Fresh Connect gave them a helping hand and provided opportunities for them to thrive.
Want to do more to help your hungry neighbors in need? There are two easy ways to embody the Fresh Connect spirit!
1. Volunteer at a Fresh Connect Location
Each site is always in need of 10-15 volunteers. Signing up to volunteer is as easy ask clicking the links below. However, we ask all volunteers to be at least 18 years old and comfortable lifting 30 pounds repeatedly.
2. Plan a Healthy Food Drive
November 10-18 is National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. Use the guidelines provided by Hunger Coalition of Bucks County to host your own healthy food drive. BCOC can help pair you to a pantry closest to you.
Amanda Musselman is Food Program Coordinator for Bucks County Opportunity Council. When not pursuing her passion of fighting food insecurity, she can be found hanging out with her pup in the great outdoors.
Fresh Connect Bucks County is a free farmers’ market bringing fresh, healthy food to our hungry neighbors in Bucks County. It returns to the same location on the same day at the same time each week, providing reliable and needed food to the 57,000 Bucks County residents facing hunger, 32% of whom are children. Fresh Connect is a collaboration of Bucks County Opportunity Council, Philabundance, Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and St. Mary Medical Center, with generous funding by United Way of Bucks County. For more information, visit: BCOC.org.