Mobile Farmers’ Market to Bring Healthy Food Choices to Different Parts of Merced County
If you look out your window and happen to see a bright green semi-truck painted with happy fruit, vegetables and a grinning cow drive by, no, you are not seeing things!
Just put on your jacket and get ready for your weekly visit from the Mobile Farmers’ Market, which will be coming soon to your neighborhood to bring you fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products.
The Mobile Farmers’ Market has been created by a new 501 (c) (3) organization, Make Someone Happy, to help address the severe problems of obesity among Merced County residents. With approximately one-third of all adults in Merced County and their children facing high rates of obesity, they are also at an extremely high risk for developing life-threatening chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, including diabetes, coronary heart disease and colorectal cancer.
The Mobile Farmers’ Market will visit Merced County residents who live in food deserts, areas where affordable healthy food is difficult to obtain, and who either live too far away or do not have transportation to the nutritious food that is available in supermarkets or farmers’ markets. By working closely with local farmers, Make Someone Happy is dedicated to providing fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally directly onto the plates of residents who need them.
None of this would have happened without tremendous community support, the generous donation in March by Delta Sierra Beverages in Modesto of a 27-foot trailer and tractor and a refrigerated van, and funding provided by the Merced County Human Services Agency, the California Freshworks Fund and the California Endowment.
“This is just the first step in our efforts to reach out to our communities who do not have access to healthy food that is necessary to prevent disease,” said Ana Pagan, director of the Merced County Human Services Agency. “We look forward to getting to know our communities better and to understanding the needs that they have during these weekly visits to 10 communities throughout Merced County. We are working in partnership to make sure that their needs are addressed.”
Because of the importance of providing children with more nutritious food, the Mobile Farmers’ Market will also park at schools where parents and their children can not only purchase healthy fruits, vegetables and dairy products, but where they can begin to participate in healthy physical activities and learn about how eating the wrong foods can affect not only physical health and appearance, but emotional well-being.
The school districts in each area have also been strong partners in bringing the Mobile Farmers’ Market to families and children. By working with the Merced County Office of Education, the Mobile Farmers’ Market is scheduled to visit five schools each week throughout Merced County. As County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven E. Gomes indicates, “This partnership is essential in our efforts to improve the lives of our children and our families.”