In Western Massachusetts, farmer’s markets are widely available throughout the region offering families the freshest fruits and vegetables. The farm-to-table concept also has become widely known as more restaurants source their ingredients from local farms. Or one can take Route 47 traveling through South Hadley, Hadley and Sunderland to find numerous roadside stands featuring farm fresh produce, flowers and local honey and jams.

But what if getting to these wonderful markets pose a challenge?

Thankfully, Go Fresh Mobile Market is back for the 2021 season delivering fresh produce to low-income housing, health clinics and community organizations providing the same fresh bounty that can be found at area markets.

Similarly, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts delivers free fresh and non-perishable groceries directly to a community sites in all four Western Massachusetts counties. The food bank’s offerings are free to anyone in need. At the Go Fresh Mobile Market, families can use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) benefits. HIP provides $40 worth of produce to low-income residents.

The mobile market makes 12 stops a week in Springfield. Wellspring Harvest, a cooperative greenhouse in Indian Orchard, started running the mobile market in late 2020, taking over from Live Well Springfield, which ran the mobile market for 10 years.

As many elderly and low-income residents don’t have access to transportation these offerings provide a much-needed resource to gain access to healthy foods. The food bank’s service offers two locations in Franklin County, four locations in Berkshire County, 17 in Hampden County and three locations in Hampshire County.

Samantha Hamilton, the Live Well Springfield program coordinator for the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts said, “This has been a passion project for the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, from idea to concept to birthing this mobile market that would serve communities where there are food deserts and food insecurity.”

The pandemic has peeled back many layers of society to reveal the need for basic services, such as getting food to those in need. While the Food Bank has been working throughout the pandemic to deliver food, having additional support such as mobile markets that accept HIP and SNAP can only expand the reach and make a positive impact on underserved communities.

Source News