“Having some fresh produce without a 150-mile trip is awesome,” one Beatty resident posted on Facebook following Beatty’s second “Produce Palooza” the day before Thanksgiving.
The free produce giveaway, sponsored by NyE Communities Coalition, drew a crowd rivaling those produced by town board meetings dealing with dog, wild burro, or zoning ordinances.
Food Security Coordinator Marlaina Porter says the program is intended to educate people about healthy eating and to make fresh, healthful produce available where it is difficult to obtain.
Porter said that at the time of the first Produce Palooza in September the only store carrying any fresh produce in Beatty was expected to be closing. It has since reopened with some produce.
She said that the coalition looked into what produce the local store had and did not bring those items so as not to be in competition.
Locals who attended the event were able to select from what was still a good variety of produce filling the large meeting room of the Beatty Community Center.
They were allowed eight pounds of produce for each person in the household. One resident was heard saying, “You get eight pounds. I’m looking for the light stuff!”
The Coalition uses Food Security Grant money to purchase the produce at a discount from supermarkets. This time it all came from Smith’s.
In addition to the produce, participants could pick up free packets of seeds donated by Walmart. They could also take home recipes for healthful dishes using the produce.
Health workers were also on hand to provide information on health services and insurance options available.
The next Produce Palooza in Beatty is scheduled for Jan. 16. Others are slated for March 20 and May 15.
Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.