Getting those recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables has become more affordable for Fort Huachuca Families and the Sierra Vista community. On the first and third Saturday of the month, Market on the Move, or MoM, brings 36,000 pounds of produce to the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre Pavilion for distribution to the public. The next MoM produce distribution event will take place May 18 at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre Pavilion from 7 – 10 a.m.
The brainchild behind bringing this Phoenix- and Tucson-based program on post is Chief Warrant Officer 4 Stephanie Norris, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, network integration evaluation integrator.
According to Norris, MoM served 800 people at its first event on April 6. On Saturday, MoM served about 700 people.
“The biggest benefit is reaching the community that cannot normally afford produce,” Norris said. “There are people thanking us for bringing [MoM] here because they can’t afford fresh produce any other way.”
The experience is similar to a farmer’s market environment. Participants provide a $10 donation upon entrance, which allows them to take up to 60 pounds of produce. They are given a token for their donation and enough boxes to hold their produce. They pick an open lane from which to choose their produce and present their token to volunteers staffing the lanes, when requested.
Each lane is set up exactly the same. Norris explained that some of the items are limited to a certain number that people can take, but most are unlimited. It all depends upon the type and amount of produce delivered on the 54-foot semi truck.
While 60 pounds of produce is a lot for the average family, the goal is to share that food with others, especially those who cannot afford to make the donation or are unable to participate. People are encouraged to share with friends, family, neighbors and church members. Some organizations come and donate extra in order to take more produce to local food banks. Norris’ family delivers food to the Bonita Vista Senior Apartment Complex.
“That is what Market on the Move is all about,” Norris said. “It’s about distributing rescued produce to our community, specifically to those who need it and can share it with others. We want the produce to be stretched as far as possible.”
Another aspect contributing to MoM’s success has been the volunteers. Most MoM events require around 35 volunteers, but Norris has seen double that number come forward to help.
Volunteer jobs include taking the donations, unloading the truck, keeping the lanes organized, making sure enough produce is out for people to take and assisting those who cannot physically walk through the lanes to pick out the produce or carry the 60 pounds to their vehicles.
“I cannot give enough accolades to our volunteers – they are wonderful people,” Norris said.
MoM is made possible by the non-profit 3000 Club. The organization’s members, supporters and volunteers rescue about 30 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and distribute over $45 million worth of produce annually.
The 3000 Club has allowed the Fort Huachuca MoM to keep 10 percent of the proceeds from every event to put back into the community. From the first event, 52 vouchers, worth $10 each, were given to Col. Dan McFarland, U.S. Army garrison commander, in a special presentation. The vouchers were then distributed to Army Community Service center to give away.
From the second event, $400 was presented to the Chaplain’s Helping Hands Ministry. One program stemming from this ministry is the Chaplain’s Food Locker, which provides grocery assistance to Families and Soldiers in need.
“The Installation Chaplain’s Office is very appreciative of the support we get from the community, whether it’s from Market on the Move, any unit or individual donations,” Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Samuel Godfrey said.
For more information about MoM, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook page, Market on the Move-Sierra Vista.