Fresh Food and Friends

Fresh Food and Friends

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Produce on Wheels brings much-needed produce and company to seniors.

As we’ve all seen, the pandemic revealed many unmet needs in our community. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada developed its Produce on Wheels program to help meet one of them: hungry seniors. But the organization soon discovered the program could meet a second need as well — the need for community.

With a large delivery truck, Produce on Wheels began covering 90,000 miles of territory in Northern Nevada and California to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those living in senior housing facilities as well as seniors living in rural areas.

It became as much a social hub as a mobile delivery service.

 

Produce With a Purpose

In October 2020, Produce on Wheels was launched through private donations, not governmental assistance, to help with the isolation that seniors were feeling during the pandemic and address their often-limited access to fresh produce. Volunteers don gloves and fill bags with each person’s desired produce.

A volunteer helps load food into a neighbor’s vehicle at the food bank’s Produce on Wheels event

The PoW truck is outfitted to serve as a mobile farmers’ market. Once acquired, it was painted with an eye-catching mural by local artist Jennifer Charbonneau. Then it began its vital, dual-purpose endeavor: Feed those in need while also fostering socialization around the truck.

Today the program serves 1,100 seniors each month via 38 distribution sites, which include many regional senior housing facilities, along with rural locations such as Silver Springs, Schurz, Hawthorne, Dayton, and Fernley. Those who have used the service love it.

A volunteer helps a senior neighbor select fresh produce

“The Food Bank doesn’t only help me with my nutrition. It’s also helped me to find a sense of community in my new town,” says Theresa, one of Produce on Wheels’ patrons, who declined to provide her last name because of privacy concerns. She says her only income comes from the Social Security Administration, and she often struggles to afford healthy food. “These programs, and the people I meet because of them, have truly brought the sparkle back to my life.”

 

How To Help

This program was made possible by the generosity of many private donors. However, the FBNN still faces one struggle in helping the program to survive and thrive in rural areas: finding volunteers to help with distributions.

If you live in any of the rural areas of Northern Nevada or Northern California and have some time and the desire to help, visit Fbnn.org/get-involved and sign up to help PoW serve seniors. The produce may not last long, but the joy you get from seeing seniors smile and knowing you helped make that happen will last a lifetime.

 

Freelance writer Natasha Bourlin loved learning about programs to help seniors and sharing with readers how people can help.

Natasha Bourlin, founder of Passport & Plume, loves nothing more than to convey inspirational stories and travel the globe. Reach out to her, and reach your readers. Dog lover.

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