Fresh Veggies for All!
The slow re-opening of New Jersey can be likened to the growing cycle of the plants in our gardens. Nature cannot be rushed, but when the conditions are right, you have to be prepared to act quickly! By mid –June the perfect spring conditions were behind us and it was starting to really feel like summer. Time to activate our small but enthusiastic group of volunteer gardeners from the world of virtual meet ups with some urgency to some in-person gardening.
Our virtual gardeners had received a collection of vegetable and herb seedlings to start in their home gardens in May. Regular Zoom calls allowed our gardening guru, Cherie, the opportunity to pass on helpful hints and tips and problem solve wildlife issues. Once we were cleared to gather in small groups in person, the next task was to meet at St. Cloud school to weed the six existing raised beds. Our volunteers made quick work of it under a blazing sun. We soon realized that we would need to order additional soil and compost to top the beds off so we could get started with some fast–growing summer vegetables. Our ultimate goal is to supply fruits and vegetables to the local food pantry at Holy Trinity Church in West Orange, which has experienced a 400% increase in demand for their services since the pandemic began.
The West Essex YMCA connected with Holy Trinity through our weekly food access deliveries to relieve food insecurity in the surrounding towns. From the end of April, with the help of a contingent of volunteers, the Y has coordinated the delivery of over 21,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and 6,000 pounds of shelf stable items to families in Livingston, Caldwell, West Orange and Orange. We hear every week how thrilled participants are to receive the produce boxes donated weekly by Seashore Specialties in South Jersey to partner YMCA’s all over the state of New Jersey.
“We have been getting two full boxes of food delivered to our house every week for the past month, which has been absolutely amazing. These fresh veggies have sustained our household, and I just want to thank you so much for this extraordinary generosity!
Many thanks to you and the YMCA for organizing this food relief program. Sending you much blessings and heart-felt thanks! “
From a health perspective we know how important fruits and vegetables are nutritionally, and this program has underscored how important it is to make sure that those at most risk of food insecurity in our communities have access to not just food, but food that will enhance their well-being and outcomes.
About the Grantee
The West Essex YMCA, a Branch of the Metro YMCA of the Oranges, is a mission driven organization and trusted community partner in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y has been serving the needs of the community for over 50 years, providing a wide variety of activities and programs in an environment welcoming all.