Every Friday afternoon, in an underserved area in the Ironbound Section of Newark, something extraordinary is happening. The streets are filled with mothers and grandmothers, veterans and senior adults – all bringing bags of beautiful fresh produce home to their families. Launched in April 2014, the Newark Fresh Produce Market has had a huge impact on the health and well-being of many of the area’s residents. On some days, the aroma of a particularly sweet piece of fruit floats throughout the neighborhood as people simply cannot wait to get home to enjoy their treats.
With initial funding from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ, exceptional fresh produce from HelloFresh, and the community partnership of The Cortland Street Ironbound Community Corporation Family Success Center, between 700 and 1,000 families each week are provided the access and subsequent benefits of a diet rich with fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, along with it, the joy and dignity of knowing that they are sharing them with their loved ones.
Because for so many the produce being received is unfamiliar or has been forgotten over the years of absence from their meals, the Success Center, along with nutritionists provided by Inserra Supermarkets, provides cooking suggestions and tips as the “shoppers” wait to receive this exquisite bounty. And nothing is better than hearing about the carrots that were turned into carrot muffins, or heads of Boston lettuce transformed to a healthier tortilla substitute!
An added benefit to the weekly market is the sense of community that has developed among the recipients. Along with shared cooking ideas, random acts of kindness occur weekly, such as residents carrying a bag of produce home for a sick neighbor who couldn’t make it to the market that day.
The extraordinary success of this pilot market has been overwhelming and led to the opening of a 2nd location at Bessie Green Community in the Washington Park section of the city in Spring 2018. Clearly something wonderful is happening on the streets of Newark and everyone can participate!
There are many ways to get involved in this transformative program. For information contact Julie Kinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.