As our fresh produce distribution site in Flemington grew and the dynamics of the program evolved and we saw the opportunity to further help people in our community. Our Flemington site serves a target population within our community that reside in a food desert area. It’s success led us to adding in wellness options, community information and relationship building. This success prompted us to seek new opportunities.
As we began the venture of expanding into Clinton we were aware of the needs and challenges of our target population (Transportation, work hours and general fears and trust issues with the unknown).
By expanding our produce distribution site to Clinton, NJ we are hoping to have similar success to our Flemington site. Our intent is to broaden our distribution of fresh produce in partnership with America’s Grow a Row (AGAR), serving new people in the Clinton area that without our support would struggle to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
After much leg work and relationship building (trust building) we offered/ hosted our first distribution day on 1/5. At this point we had not fully secured a weekly site and were working with a local store that services our target population allowing us to build trust. Our first day served 5 people with 3 full boxes of produce from AGAR.
To date we have hosted 11 days of produce distribution in Clinton with an average service of 6 people per day. We have ranged from 0 participants (due to poor weather) to 11. On average we provide 5.6 boxes of fresh produce. People are able to pick and choose which products they are interested in. We have had available anywhere from 3 to 16 boxes available for people to pick from.
In August we decided to learn a little more about the people we are helping. We developed and small survey which we handed out one Saturday before we let the group jump in and grab their fruits, vegetables and breads.
The results reflected the average age of participants to be 28 years old (this does not include children), the average family size is 3.9, and the average annual income for a family is between $10,000 and $20,000.
Additionally, our results reflected that families felt they saved on average about $39.00 per week when utilizing of our bread and produce distribution program. Most families attend weekly. The data collected will be used to develop and implement programs and services that will be beneficial to the population we are serving.
This August we took advantage of the fantastic weather and offered some fun activities for children outside. One of our volunteers stepped this month stepped up to do fitness fun activities and games with the children that attend the weekly distribution program. They did everything from simple calisthenics to school recess games. It was fun and easy for all.
This September we are looking to expand our program beyond just Saturday distribution at the Flemington Baptist Church. We will be contacting other local churches to build new relationships and hopefully expand our outreach.
It’s been a busy summer for our produce distribution program.
In addition to our weekly produce distribution families were asked to volunteer their time at America’s Grow a Row. This was a great time for all. Children, families and individuals that enjoy the weekly produce gathered to help out at the farm. They helped pick box after box of fresh green beans. It was a wonderful opportunity to come full circle. Children and families could see where the fresh produce comes from each week along with giving back to the community. It was an all-around positive experience for all.
For our special event Saturday event the children that attend the produce distribution program with the parents were introduced to traditional yard games that are played and parties and picnics. Games included a ring toss, tin can pyramid knock down game, hop scotch, sack races and more.
We also choose to piggy back on our June 14th aquatic safety clinic with a trip to the YMCA for an on deck in the pool water safety class. The June 14th activity was held at the produce distribution site at the Flemington Baptist. We felt it would be more beneficial to have the children and parents experience the water safety clinic at the pool. We had a terrific turn out of over 18 participants.
Produce distribution keeps moving along with regular attendees and the occasional new face. On average we see 30 to 40 people each weekend that gratefully take advantage of our produce distribution.
Contact Kristen Heimall at Hunterdon County YMCA for more information firstname.lastname@example.org
As soon as the weather improved we switched gears from being indoors at the Flemington Baptist Church to outside again, distributing fresh produce to our most needy families in the Flemington area. We are very grateful that the Church allows us use of the kitchen and dining room / multi-purpose space when the weather is not favorable, but being outside brings a different feeling to the program. The kids like to run around and have fun and parents enjoy walking to the church with their strollers. The overall feeling is simply more jovial.
This month we had some left over produce after produce distribution. With the early vegetables popping out we had an excess of produce which allowed us to take left overs to the local food pantry. It is rare that we have anything left over, but a good problem to have.
In addition to our weekly vegetable distribution we offered a swim safety awareness program. The aquatic safety class was a hoot. As you can imagine our aquatic staff don’t get out of the pool area very often so they thoroughly enjoyed coming out to the produce distribution program to teach aquatic safety.
Contact Kristen Heimall at Hunterdon County YMCA for more information email@example.com
All is moving along well as we enter into the summer season. Everyone is anxious to be outside again for the distribution program and activities.
During the month of May the children we introduced to a Zumba class. The best part of the class was not the fabulous move that the instructor taught, but the extraordinary dance move that the children were able to share with the instructor. It was obvious very quickly that the students were not shy about breaking out their moves. I think we even saw a few Michael Jackson moves. I’m not sure if those are official Zumba moves, but it really all about the fun and they didn’t miss a beat.
We are also excited to share that on Sunday, May 4th we hosted an ALL STAFF meeting with nearly 300 employees in attendance. The highlight of the entire meeting was our Social Responsibility gallery walk (where we highlight the produce distribution program). It was modeled after the Gary Graham Social Responsibility conference held earlier this year. As you can imagine being a large organization leaves room for people to miss out on the great programs and services being offered. The gallery walk was a huge success people were so pleased to be able to meet with people from other department and see and hear about their awesome programs. It was a great energizer for all the staff. People walked away feeling a great sense of pride in our Y.
For more information, contact Kristen Heimall at Hunterdon County YMCA. firstname.lastname@example.org