By Heart Network staff
Here in the North Country, our communities exist in vast, rural areas, where access to life’s basic necessities is limited. Healthy, nutritious food can be hard to come by for those who live in less populated towns and villages, and it often takes creative solutions to overcome these obstacles.
The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity’s Mobile Market provides access to seasonal produce, baked goods and a salad bar; the market made its debut in 2018 in a partnership with JCEO and the Heart Network, with funding from the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities grant. One bus started with 12 stops and has since expanded, adding more communities and offerings. The Mobile Market accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the additional bonus of the Double Up Food Bucks Program (DUFB), which doubles the amount of produce SNAP recipients can purchase; customers can also use Office for the Aging farmers market vouchers.
New stops included Maple Leaf Housing in Brushton, Moira and North Bangor as well as the Malone and Chateaugay recreation parks. The buses now have 29 stops, and JCEO will continue to extend its growing season on each end with additional hydroponic greenhouses made possible with New York State Medicaid delivery system reform funding allocated by Adirondack Health Institute (AHI). Produce is also sourced from Bare Hill and Franklin Correctional facilities.
Customers can place salad orders throughout the winter months with deliveries limited to the Malone community five days per week. Orders can be called in to (518) 319-4028.
The pandemic has shown just how important it is to bring vital resources directly to the people who need them most. We are grateful to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s SHINE program, CDPHP Insurance, the Mother Cabrini Foundation, AHI and New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program. Special thanks to volunteers Aggie, Jim, Chris and Jan for their weekly support. We look forward to our fifth season next year and hope to continue to build on our success.
Dick Lavigne is food services director at the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity; Andrea Goff coordinates the Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program for the Heart Network.