Every week, in underserved communities in Newark and Paterson, extraordinary things are happening! The streets are filled with mothers and grandmothers, veterans and senior adults, families living in apartments and those who are homeless – all receiving bags of beautiful fresh produce for their loved ones and/or themselves. Launched initially in the Ironbound section of Newark in April 2014 and since then helping additional neighborhoods in need, our network of fresh produce markets is having a huge impact on the health and well-being of our vulnerable neighbors in northern NJ. On some days, the aroma of a particularly sweet piece of fruit floats throughout the streets as people simply cannot wait to get home to enjoy their treats.
With funding from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ, Impact 100 Garden State, Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Knight Family Charitable Foundation and others, exceptional fresh produce from local distributors and supermarkets is made available, at no-cost, to approximately 2,000 people. ‘Shoppers’ receive the benefits of a diet rich with fresh fruits and vegetables for themselves and their families, along with a huge serving of reassurance and hope.
Because for so many the produce being received is unfamiliar or has been forgotten over the years of absence from their meals, nutrition education is provided along with cooking suggestions and tips when receiving 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! Kudos to the dieticians from Inserra Supermarkets and the culinary team from Passaic County Community College for their innovative ideas.
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 success of the markets is directly attributable to the wonderful community partners who conduct outreach, handle the logistics and organize each week’s shopping experience. Friday markets are held at Bessie Green Community at 510 Broad Street and at the Family Success Center at 29 Cortland Street, both in Newark. On Tuesdays, markets are available at Hilltop Haven Family Shelter at 36-38 Circle Avenue in Paterson and for seniors, beginning the end of August, at 1060 Broad Street in Newark
There are many ways to get involved in this transformative program. For information contact Julie – email@example.com