On a spring-like February day, tables in the community room at Wake Forest Baptist Church were lined with crates of apples, tomatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, bananas, strawberries, potatoes (both white and sweet), lettuce, grapes, bread, and baked goods. Volunteers were setting out food from Inter-Faith Food Shuttle for our monthly community Mobile Market at the church– providing good food directly to folks in need. Many waited patiently for the market to begin. One man at the market, Farris Simpson, lost his job four months ago, and his wife, with multiple sclerosis, relies on disability for support.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been to anything like this,” he said. The reality is that anyone can be affected by hunger and find themselves in need of a little help to make ends meet. And that’s exactly what the market provides. Run once a month by two kind-hearted volunteers from the church, the market welcomes all folks in need - no questions asked - to get whatever they need for free.
Sherrell Seda is a 44 year old veteran on disability and has two twin 16 year old boys to take care of, Dominique and Demetrius. She says she appreciates the Mobile Market for the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables.
“A lot of vegetables and produce we get here, we couldn’t afford at the supermarket.” She lamented that “we just get so busy just trying to fill the children up” that sometimes what’s healthful gets neglected.
Sherrell also welcomes the opportunity to try new things.
“A lot of stuff you can get here, you might never have tried before,” she says. Last month, she got to try a pomegranate for the first time. Her athletic sons are big meat eaters, but she says the vegetables she gets from the mobile market ensure they get other nutrition, too. She’s thankful to have food to give them energy for their wrestling matches and ballgames.
The help from the market “goes farther than you’d think,” said Sharrell, “it’s like a drop of water falling in a basin, the way it spreads….it’s a blessing.”
Mitch Phillips, referred to the market by Urban Ministries, was there for his first time as well. He said he had a difficult time buying fruits and vegetables with food stamps while trying to make the benefits last the whole month.
“All you can buy is hot dogs and bologna….maybe a roast if it’s marked down three or four times,” he says, shaking his head, “…and then they CUT food stamps!”
The market provides knowledge as well as food. The IFFS Nutrition team shows participants healthful ways to use the produce they get there, providing tips on how to cook healthy on a budget.
This month’s lesson focused on reducing sodium intake, with tips such as not adding salt until you’re at the table and using herbs and spices to add flavor in place of salt.
Participants sampled a healthier version of a comfort-food favorites: whole-grain mac ‘n’ cheese with broccoli! The nutrition team then compared the ingredient list for this recipe to the ingredient list for Kraft’s boxed macaroni and cheese – which contains higher fat content (including that nasty trans fat), higher sodium, and way less fiber than the recipe our nutrition team prepared.
“Do you know what Triployphosphate is?” Katherine Moser, IFFS's Nutrition Outreach Coordinator, asks the crowd, “Me neither.” But all of the ingredients in the whole-grain dish were ones participants could easily find in the grocery store and know how to shop for.
Participants are challenged to "Try it, Share it, Change it" - Try a new food or recipe, Share information or food with a someone you know, or make a small Change in eating and behaviors.