The Y as a Hub for Fresh Produce
On Monday, Jan took me with her to deliver food from the Reentry Garden to families who may not come to our Y. It’s something she does regularly and she wanted me to see some of the impact we have.
Our partnership with the Reentry Garden ensures that the bounty from the garden is distributed through Waldo County and gives community members and Y regulars the chance to take home fresh produce three times each week. It’s something our Y has been doing for many years. In a regular year, 40,000+ pounds of produce will go through our Y.
Two people shoulder most of the responsibility for the program: Dale Cross and Jan McIntyre.
Dale Cross, yes, the former CEO!, delivers boxes of food to our doors most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the late summer and fall. We are one of his many stops. Without him, Waldo County would have less food!
Jan McIntyre, is the other. Between answering phones, greeting people, and sharing information, she manages our produce distribution hub. She sorts the produce into different boxes. Some stay out for people who come to the Y. Others are set aside for churches and other deliver points. Once she has the boxes made up, she calls the other programs to let them know their boxes are ready.
Once a week, she puts together a few boxes to take out into the community. On Monday, we put four boxes of corn, two of potatoes, and one of squash into the back of my truck and drove to Swanville Ave. She directed me to a neighborhood just off the road. After I parked, I put down the tailgate and pulled a box of each vegetable out. Jan said, “Now we go knock on doors.” She took one side of the driveway, I took the other. I developed my patter: “Hi, I’m from the Y. We have a load of fresh produce we are trying to give away. Would you like some?” No one was home at the first door I knocked on, but I found one at the second! “Bring a bag and take whatever you need.”
Within a few minutes, people were congregating around the bed of the truck, filling their bags. Jan recognized the first man I sent out. “George?!” she exclaimed. “George! It’s me, Jan, from the Y.” She stepped back and pulled down her mask. She recognizes everyone!
There were a few people who were housebound. We filled bags for them. Some people said they didn’t like corn, couldn’t eat it, or already had enough food, but many more expressed their gratitude for the food. One woman said was just thinking about corn on the cob because she loved it so much! Another told us she hadn’t known what she would make for dinner and this food was a godsend.
We visited three different neighborhoods and gave away all the food we had brought. We reminded everyone that they could come to the Y for more. We met so many grateful people. It was a great reminder of the impact we can have when we reach out to others and share our bounty.