WOW Market blooms this summer
By DK McDONALD The Daily News Jun 11, 2016
FORT MOHAVE — A year of dedicated effort to bring affordable fresh produce to the Tri-state bears fruit this month.
The inaugural Produce On Wheels — With Out Waste produce market takes place from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry at Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, 4195 S. Lynn Drive in Fort Mohave.
Similar to both a mobile pantry and farmers market and with the purchasing power of Borderlands Food Bank, the monthly pop-up market will offer up to 60 pounds of seasonally available produce for a $15 donation.
“Mojave Desert Nutrition Initiative and Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry at Amazing Grace Fellowship Church have partnered with Borderlands Diabetes Prevention and Aid Fund to bring the Produce On Wheels — With Out Waste program to the Tri-state,” said Betty Rae, Mojave Desert Nutrition Initiative co-organizer. “We’re really excited about becoming an agency partner.”
The Santa Cruz County-based Borderlands Food Bank market program disperses
10 million pounds of fresh produce annually to agencies throughout Southern Arizona and the Metropolitan Tucson and Phoenix service areas.
The food bank sits on the border crossing at Nogales, where more than half the produce imported from Mexico comes into the United States. Produce entering the U.S. must pass a strict inspection prior to distribution; blemishes and imperfections often mean the products cannot be sold. Borderlands rescues this commercially rejected but safe-to-eat produce and distributes the food to nearly 400 registered nonprofits in both the United States and Mexico.
“The program is affordable and it’s environmentally sound — the food would otherwise end up in the landfill as waste — and makes it possible to offer anyone a boost of nutritious fruits and vegetables for about 25 cents per pound,” Rae said.
Once arriving at the market, participants register for their WOW Market identification card, make their $15 donation, and then choose from the produce available.
Preregistration is available through Mojave Desert Nutrition Initiative, 928-758-7689, Caring Hearts Food Ministry, 928-758-6059, or online with BorderlandsFoodBank.org.
The market will accept credit/debit cards, cash and SNAP/EBT benefits.
“We’ll be the only produce market in the Tri-state accepting SNAP/EBT,” Rae said. “For those paying with SNAP/EBT, the price will be slightly less than $15.”
The organizers’ goal is to be able to provide a pop-up market monthly.
“Caring Hearts Food Ministry is hosting the first market,” Rae said. “Potentially they’ll be hosting the market monthly.”
Success in the summer months will result in year-round availability, she said.
“We need at least 400 household contributions of $15 to make the site a success,” Rae explained. About 325 households have signed up so far.
Borderlands will provide enough produce — 35,000 pounds — to provide produce for up to 600 households.
Proceeds from the market, which is all nonprofit and volunteer operated, benefit the food programs of the hosting agencies.
Established in 2014, Mojave Desert Initiative Lifestyle & Nutrition is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit nutrition and lifestyle medicine initiative providing community outreach services.
Caring Hearts Food Bank, a ministry of Amazing Grace Fellowship Church, opened in 2015. A part of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, the agency has provided thousands of emergency food boxes to local families in need.
“People should come prepared to wait in line in this heat,” Rae said. “Wear hats, sunscreen, protective clothing and bring water. Bring wheelie coolers, carts, bins and dollies to make it easier to get your produce to the car. We’ll be there until 2 p.m. or until the produce is gone.”
For more information about the WOW pop-up market, go online to www.facebook.com/WOWproducePantry.