WASHINGTON – Tyrell Holcomb, the distributions program manager with the Capital Area Food Bank, took a look at the long line of people who were queuing for the fresh produce and meat that the organization offers the first Saturday of every month and made a prediction.
“Today, it looks like we are going to have a record in terms of the number of households in which we are going to be serving,” Holcomb, 26, said. “I’m anticipating that we’ll probably serve about 300 households today.”
Scores of people lined up on the windy morning near the Northwest One Library near First and L streets in northwest Washington with their market bags and trollies in hand to collect their free fresh fruits and vegetables distributed by the Capital Area Food Bank.
The Capital Area Food Bank distributes fresh food to individuals who are low to moderate income and who receive federal assistance. Potatoes, cabbage, turkeys, onions and grapes were just a few of the giveaways available to those waiting in line with their food bank key cards Saturday.
Food Bank serves all eight wards in the District, Fairfax County in Virginia and Prince George’s County in Maryland.
Volunteers set up their stalls on the road of L Street and greeted recipients with a smile as they distributed the fresh produce.
Juanda Smith, 61, heard about the food bank from a friend and started coming this year.
“It helps me with food to last for the month,” Smith said. “So, it’s like an addition. I get everything, the cabbage, the potatoes, the apples and especially the salad.”
In addition to distributing fresh produce, the Capital Area Food Bank shares recipes for healthy and affordable meals at the market as well as online.
“We’re not just handing you fresh fruits and vegetables, anticipating that you’ll go home and do something with it,” Holcomb said. “We’re giving you a recipe to go home and actually try with the fresh fruits and vegetables that we provide.”
Tiffany Mitchell, 31, a day care worker who lives across the street from the food bank, brought her god brother to help her pick up her fresh produce for this month.
“My favorite part of the market is the fruits,” Mitchell said. “My daughter likes fruits. So, she’s going to enjoy these grapes and just the fact that they help us with the food, because it is a struggle.”
People were not aware that they were qualified to get free produce at the food bank.
Cloment Okehie, a 29-year-old engineering student, was unaware that he qualified to receive free produce.
“I was just passing by last month, going to the library, because I go every weekend and one of them told me about the food bank and that I qualified,” Okehie said.
Okehie, who was making his second trip to the food bank, said his favorite part was getting the turkey.
“It benefitted me a lot,” he said. “It reduced my expense. It makes me stay at home to cook and not to go out so much to spend. It has been so wonderful.”
Qualified residents can sign up and become a member of the food bank at no cost.
“Members of the market place sign up and get a key card which makes the flow of the line much smoother,” Holcomb said. “And what happens is, on a monthly basis they come, they show their key cards, their key cards get scanned and they’re able to come through and get their produce.
“It also helps us to track the number of people we’re actually serving at each distribution.”
For more information on how to visit the next community marketplace in your neighbourhood, click here to visit the website.