This week we bring our readers an update on the MealsPlus garden at Wheeler Farm and the produce we are growing for our community. We are excited to announce that we’ve expanded the program in 2016 and are currently providing fresh, local produce to even more seniors in Salt Lake County via pop-up farmer’s markets at Senior Centers all over the valley.
Last year we introduced the garden on this blog and informed our readers that produce was donated to the Meals on Wheels clients in Salt Lake County. While the 2015 program was successful, after reviewing it we (along with our community partners) felt the produce could go even further. Due to an even more successful 2016 year, Master Gardeners will permanently adopt the senior center farmers’ markets as a new project in 2017.
So far this year, USU Extension has visited 9 different centers and over 530 seniors have taken away FREE produce. 2016 pop-up markets were held at the following senior centers in Salt Lake County:
- Friendly Neighborhood
- Eddie P. Mayne Kearns
- Magna Kennecott
- Mt. Olympus
- River’s Bend Northwest
- Sunday Anderson Westside
- West Jordan
Markets were held bi-weekly and resembled vendor booths at local farmers’ markets. Participating seniors could “shop” for their favorite seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs to take home free of charge. Most seniors learned about the program through their center coordinators.
Not only is the MealsPlus garden at Wheeler Farm maintained by our amazing Master Gardener volunteers, they also help with harvest, delivery and program impact assessment. They are truly what make this program successful! And we know it is successful, not just from the increasing participation from week to week, but straight from the seniors mouths. Here are a few quotes from some of our clients.
“I enjoy it when it comes every two weeks. It’s great.”
“I think it’s a blessing because it stretches the budget. It’s very helpful for seniors on a fixed income!”
“Keep it coming, great program!”
“When they do things like this it helps people that live on extremely low incomes.”
Lastly, we couldn’t do any of this without our community partners! Produce was donated from the Meals Plus Harvest Garden, Wheeler Farm, Green Urban Lunchbox and Bell Organic (local urban farm).
What can you do?
If you are interested in volunteering for the MealsPlus Program, Salt Lake County can still use volunteers to help package shares for Meals on Wheels clients every Wednesday starting at 2:30 PM at the Salt Lake County Government Center. Please contact Shauna Brock for more details (385) 468-3196.