Would you like to get 60 lb. of fresh produce for $15? Then go to the Market on the Move at the Mountaintop top Christian Fellowship, 660 6th street in Prescott on the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone can come—there is no test or qualification. What could you do with 60 lb.of fruits and vegetables? People waiting in line on December 15th mentioned canning, freezing, drying, and probably most importantly, sharing with friends and neighbors. Items available will vary by availability. The last week, there were mounds of Butternut, yellow and zucchini squash, limes, and others. everyone may choose the items and amounts they want.
But how can anyone afford to give away that much food? Answer, they get it for free from importers who would otherwise dump it in Nogales and plow it under. According to program founder Lon Taylor the whole program, “Just happened.” In 2011 he discovered by accident that of the 5 billion ib. of produce coming into the U.S.A. each year through Nogales, about 5 million pounds were being discarded for a variety of reasons, from cosmetic flaws to a simple excess of that item. Lon was appalled and so were many others. Surely there must be some way to get some of it to people who were suffering from a lack of nutritious food. And that’s how Market on the Move was born.
Starting with a 2 year grant to cover the costs, Lon and his recruits began trucking the unwanted but perfectly edible goods to sites in Phoenix and Tucson. Lon wanted to provide the food in fairly large quantities to whoever wanted/needed it. That way it could reach many people on a simple sharing basis. It was determined that a $10 charge would both encourage the recipients to value the produce and help defray the costs of trucking. Most of the sites so far have been at churches and schools. “We like those because they come already staffed with dedicated volunteers,” said Lon.
Now the goal is to bring the Markets to some smaller communities in Arizona. Prescott was chosen as the first. Here a charge of $15 per person will help cover the cost of transportation up the hill. But they figure if they had four sites, they could reduce the cost to the $10 charged down below.
Nancy Smerdell, coordinator of the program for the Mountaintop Christian Fellowship said, “Judging by the response this week, I think that by next year they may very well have four sites up here.” The church is already making changes to the distribution system to keep waiting times down. It is not necessary for customers to bring containers as boxes are available on site. For those who might have trouble getting a 30 lb. box of produce out to their vehicles, there are volunteer carriers.
The next Market on the Move event takes place on January 20.
All are welcome at this new food distribution system. All they ask is that we share the bounty.