Shaki Eurie brought a small shopping cart to Arcade Church on Marconi Avenue on Thursday, ready to collect as many potatoes, apples, carrots and onions as she could carry. She’s making soup this week for the two adults and four children she cares for in her Arden apartment, she said. If she has extra, she’ll offer it to the senior citizens in her complex.
The bounty is available once a month at the Produce For All truck, a project of Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, which delivers fresh fruit and veggies to Arden Arcade and about a dozen other low-income areas throughout the county. The truck’s flanks have pull-out bins that create a pop-up farmers market of sorts, which allows volunteers to quickly distribute the free produce. About 100 gathered in the church parking lot with bags in hand Thursday, anxious for their turn at the colorful food stand.
“It does help,” said Eurie, 37. “It stretches meals, and it makes it easier. … We have elderly all over; we have homeless people who are shy. Take an extra bag of apples and go give it to someone. I’m quite sure they won’t say no.”
Sutter Health donated $250,000 to the Produce For All project, which has been visiting neighborhoods for about six months. Organizers officially cut the ribbon on it Thursday.
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Each load the truck brings to Arden, Natomas, Oak Park, south Sacramento and other locations is enough to feed 400 families, said food bank President Blake Young. Alongside the truck, food bank staff members distribute simple recipes, as well as information about clothing giveaways, classes and legal aid for immigrants and refugees.
The group has been distributing produce out of standard delivery trucks for about a decade, but the new mobile bins makes setting up and closing down much faster, Young said. That allows staff to sometimes hit two locations in one day.
“We wanted to create a more dignified experience, where people are out in the fresh air,” he said. “We have plenty to go around.”
The drop-offs are strategically placed at churches, schools and health clinics, where food bank staff can partner with neighborhood organizers to get the food to as many people as possible, he said. About 17 percent of Sacramento County residents are food insecure, compared to 14 percent statewide, according to Feeding America, a national food bank network.
Bruce Fields and Cynthia Daniels, an Arden Arcade couple in their early 50s, said they typically visit the River City Food Bank in midtown, but having the truck just a few blocks from their home has been much more convenient.
Fields, who was formerly homeless and now lives on Social Security while volunteering at a mental health center, said the visiting truck makes Arden residents feel that someone is finally noticing them. About 25 percent of Arden residents live below the poverty level, and there are far more fast food restaurants than grocery stores in the dense, industrial neighborhood.
“This area is a little unrepresented, it feels like,” he said. “This is awesome for everyone. … We got some spaghetti squash and learned all these recipes. There are a million things we can do with spaghetti squash now. We’ve given up cheeseburgers and fast food, so this is good. For people who don’t have much money, it’s harder to find healthy foods.”
The truck is also an important food source for Arden’s refugee community, said Pastor Raed Awabdeh of the Arab American Learning Center, who brought friends from Syria and Iran to the parking lot Thursday.
“Their income from the government just barely covers their rent,” he said. “To have this free food, this really helps them feed their families.”
Produce For All schedule
- All Nations, 3939 Broadway, Sacramento (Oak Park), fourth Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
- Arcade Church, 3927 Marconi Ave., Sacramento (Arden Arcade), second Thursday, 10- 11 a.m.
- Cares Community Health, 1500 21st St., Sacramento (midtown), third Wednesday, 11 a.m.- noon.
- Encina High School, 1400 Bell St., Sacramento (Arden Arcade), third Wednesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
- Hiram Johnson High School, 6879 14th Ave., Sacramento (Tahoe Park), second Thursday, 4-5 p.m.
- Howe Park, 2201 Cottage Way, Sacramento (Arden Arcade), second Tuesday, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
- Mexican Consulate, 2093 Arena Blvd., Sacramento (Natomas), first Monday, 10-11:30 a.m.
- Molina Medical Group, 7215 55th St., Sacramento (south Sacramento), fourth Thursday, 10-11 a.m.
- WellSpace Health, 216 N. Lincoln Way, Galt, second Wednesday, 2-3 p.m.
- WellSpace Health, 6015 Watt Ave., North Highlands, fourth Friday, 1-2 p.m.
- WellSpace Health, 3415 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Sacramento (Oak Park), fourth Tuesday, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- WellSpace Health, 5959 Greenback Lane, Citrus Heights, fourth Thursday, 2-3 p.m.
- WellSpace Health, 8233 E. Stockton Blvd., Sacramento (south Sacramento), first Tuesday, 10-11 a.m.