Weather hinders Live Healthy produce boxes


LEE COUNTY – The Live Healthy Lee County (LHLC) Senior Produce Box Project aims to provide fresh produce to seniors who may not have the opportunity to get to a farmer’s market. In 2018, the project saw over 4,400 pieces of produce donated to the project. For 2019, the project will be lucky if they get 1,000 pieces donated.

“Currently, the decline in donations is mainly from the weather,” said Emily Biddenstadt, Lee County Health Department Community Health Program Manager. “Many gardens didn’t survive after we received all the rain at once in June.”

Even the LHLC Garden Project at the Lee County Conservation has taken a hit this season.

“Our donations from the Garden Project have been very minimal. A handful of grape tomatoes, a couple of cucumbers, nothing like what we had last year,” Biddenstadt said.

The tomato plants were taken over by a colony of Blister Beetles.

“Tomatoes are our #1 request, and the beetles did not help our season. So far the Garden Project has produced 12 tomatoes compared to the 191 total it produced last year. It is quite the drop.”

Comparing August 2018 to August 2019, there has been a 131% decrease in produce donations.

“We have hope that some gardens were able to replant some items so we might get some donations, but we also know that this is the reality of gardening,” adds Biddenstadt.

People wanting to donate to the Produce Box Project can leave produce directly at one of the participating sites located at Southview Apartments (Donnellson), Fairview Apartments (Donnellson), Heritage Center (Keokuk), Hillview Village (Fort Madison), Mississippi Terrace (Keokuk), Newberry Center (Fort Madison), Park View Apartments (West Point), and River Terrace (Keokuk). Each site has either a yellow or green produce box in their community room.

LHLC will also be at the Fort Madison Farmer’s Market on Monday, August 19 at 5:30 to collect any donations. Donation pick-up can also be arranged by calling (319)372-5225.

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