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Pull Up 4 Produce: Serving the Community Through Healthy Foods

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”- Hippocrates

Healthy, nutritious foods are vital to good health and a strong immune system. The Williamson Farmers Market recognizes how important access to fresh food is, especially during a time when we are in a global pandemic situation. Although the farmers market grand opening isn’t until May 30th, the market staff felt they needed to come up with a way to offer safe access to fresh foods to our residents. To meet this need, Pull Up 4 Produce was created.

What is Pull Up 4 Produce?

Pull Up 4 Produce is set up as a drive thru market at the Williamson Farmers Market location on 3rd Avenue in Williamson. The farmers market staff secures products for the bag, packs it up, and has it ready to go when you arrive. To adhere to the current social distancing guidelines, customers enter the drive thru line, pay at the first booth and are handed their market bag at the next booth. Shopping is done without ever leaving your vehicle!

Kristen DeBoard, Nutrition and Marketing Manager for Williamson Health and Wellness Center explains the bags are being done to simply meet a need they saw develop. Also, thinking of the elderly population in our area and the chronic conditions many of them deal with, this project was a way to offer them access to many of the fresh foods they love while limiting their exposure to germs in crowded grocery stores.

“I was thinking, we could have a drive-thru market. We could get food to people that was freshly picked the day before and only handled by the producer and the truck driver, plus all the food is from West Virginia. It’s similar to our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes offered during regular season, but for the bags, people aren’t signing up for a weekly commitment,” says Kristen

The Nutritional Value

The foods offered in the produce bags are more than just tasty fresh foods. They also offer plenty of needed nutrition

“There’s a lot of great foods out there that serve a dual purpose. For example, if you’re not a big water drinker, lettuce and watermelon can help you meet your daily water intake goals while giving you some nutritional help too,” states Kristin

Win-Win Situation

Kristen and the farmers market staff are excited to see how well Pull Up 4 Produce is going. She says they were shocked how quickly it took off and they admire the community for the support they’ve shown for the bags.

Kristen says, “The idea for us was to keep healthy foods accessible for people, not to make money or be a venture to capitalize on. Since so many of our outreach efforts are put on hold for the moment, we just want to help the community.”

In another way, it’s a winning situation for the Williamson Farmers Market team. They are used to interacting with the community in many ways through their outreach programs, so being able to do this program has been a lift to their spirits too.

Keep It Comin’

If the demand for the produce bags continues, Kristen says they will offer them until market season begins. She says the farmers market staff is still waiting to see what kind of season this will be and what changes may happen, but if people are still interested as market season opens, they will provide everyone with information on how to enroll in their CSA program. For now, it looks like they will be offering the produce bags for the next 8 weeks.

Quick Note on the CSA Program

For the past couple of market seasons, the farmers market has offered a weekly CSA box. Once enrolled in the subscription program, participants receive a weekly box of various items. During past seasons the boxes have offered fruits and veggies, canned goods, fresh baked breads, locally sourced meats, and more. Their goal this year is to have 75 members enrolled in the program.

“I was wondering how I was going to make that goal this year, now I’m fairly certain this is an attainable goal. If all the people coming for the produce bags will sign up for the CSA boxes our enrollment numbers will be great,” reports Kristin.

As we know, the more support the community offers to programs like the CSA boxes and weekly farmers market events, the more support and opportunities they can and will offer to the community in return. If you haven’t purchased a produce bag, give it a try!

To find out more about when the produce bags will be offered each week, follow the Williamson Farmers Market and Healthy in the Hills Facebook pages. You’ll also find live cooking demonstrations, yoga, and health tip videos on those pages.

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