Pandemic brings surge in demand for fresh produce from Farm Truck 912

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The mobile version of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market has seen a surge in demand during the COVID-19 crisis. Farm Truck 912 is delivering fresh produce during this time. Fresh produce is said to lead you to live a healthier lifestyle.

“Especially during COVID-19 we need to make sure that we’re increasing nutrients and products within our systems to ensure that we build up the immune system,” Reach Nutrition Manager with Farm Truck 912, Dr. Deidre Grim said.

Farm Truck 912, a mobile farmer’s market is bridging the gap to make sure those who are food insecure have fresh produce at home. The truck sells to the general public and cuts prices in half for those with SNAP benefits.

Farm Truck 912 cuts prices in half for those with SNAP benefits.

“My thing is to change people’s relationship with food because if you force-feed people healthy food they’re not going to want to eat it,” Community Programs Director, Mark Bowen said.

Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the truck has seen people switching from the grocery store to their local farmers’ markets out of safety concerns. The truck has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of money customers are spending in the month of April and a 70 percent increase in SNAP-funded purchases.

“Some of our stops we were anchored with institutions that are closed right now. We’ve seen drops there but in a lot of residential communities we’ve seen increases of up to 300-400 percent,” Bowen said.

Farm Truck 912 focuses on low wealth, vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Chatham County.

“The truck is still going to all the stops we’ve been going to,” said Jeb Bush, executive director of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market. “In general, stops have been super busy. We had a 50 percent increase in the amount of money spent. Part of that is that new customers have found us, and part is our new delivery service for low-wealth seniors. Several people have said they really feel safe purchasing produce in an outside environment with the Farm Truck.”

They’re focusing on low wealth, vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Chatham County where having the money to get food is an issue. Dr. Deidre Grim knows the struggle.

“There was a time where I was one of those persons receiving snap benefits and having to make sure that my family had food to eat,” Grim said.

But Mark Bowen said the silver lining in it all for him is that those who actually need fresh foods are now getting it.

“People’s EBT cards have actually increased so I’ve been able to serve even more food to people who regularly do not get that food,” Bowen said.

The hope is to reach those who need it most while helping people value fresh eating.

“And I see those opportunities actually happening as people are staying home and they start to realize wow I need to take care of myself,” Bowen said.

Due to the pandemic, new regulations are in place for staff members. They will wear gloves and masks. Those who do that are allowed to touch the produce. The Farm Truck will social distance and all surfaces are wiped down with disinfectant between stops.

The mobile farmers’ market is open six days a week.

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