LEE COUNTY – For the past two years Live Healthy Lee County (LHLC) has been distributing fresh produce donations to Produce Box Project locations across Lee County. For 2020, LHLC hopes to continue to project with some modifications.
“This year more than ever people at our locations may not have access to fresh produce because they aren’t able to get to a farmer’s market due to COVID-19 restrictions,” says Emily Biddenstadt, Lee County Health Department Community Health Program Manager and LHLC coalition facilitator. “We want this year to be a strong year for donations, so any local grower who has extra produce please consider donating.”
The project works by participating locations around the county have either a yellow or green produce box in their community room. The locations that will have a donation box starting June 2nd are: Fairview Apartments (Main St & State St, Donnellson), Hillview Village (1102 48th St, Fort Madison), and Park View Apartments (507 Iowa Joe St, West Point).
Other participating locations that will not have boxes until a reopening plan is established are: Donnellson Public Library (411 Main St, Donnellson), Heritage Center (508 Main St, Keokuk), Newberry Center (728 Avenue G, Fort Madison), and West Point Public Library (317 5th St, West Point). LHLC is working with each of these locations to establish a plan to get produce to them for use. It should be noted that Starr Park (center of Denmark) is also a participating site without donation boxes, however produce can be left on their donation table.
“Currently there are a couple places still closed due to the pandemic so we are working with them on how to proceed with getting donations to participants,” added Biddenstadt. If someone is unable to drop-off their donation they can call the Lee County Health Department at (319)372-5225 to arrange a drop-off or pick-up of produce.
The project is not to take away from producers who accept Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, but to get fresh produce in the hands of those who are unable to attend a market. “We do receive donations from some farmer’s market vendors, however we do not receive them every week. We highly encourage seniors to take advantage of the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program. That way, if they are able, they can attend a market to pick their own produce, while helping a local producer,” states Biddenstadt.
The LHLC Garden at the Lee County Conservation site continues, again with some modifications. Normally the ISU Extension & Outreach has their summer Youth Garden Camp where kids learn about gardening, and assist with picking produce. “This is another change for the year, however between the three organizations we hope to have a full garden to help with the Produce Box Project,” adds Biddenstadt.
Information about this project, and a full listing of are producers can be found in the LHLC Local Food Guide at www.livehealthyleecounty.org or a copy of the guide can be mailed out by calling (319)372-5225.