08/20/09 — Seniors get chance to buy fresh produce direct from local farms

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Seniors get chance to buy fresh produce direct from local farms

By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 20, 2009 1:46 PM

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Dora Bowden, left, and Flora Taylor look at the vegetables brought in by Travis Uzzell Tuesday morning at the farmer's market at the senior center in Goldsboro.

John Dockery says he is "pie-thirsty" and ready for some sweet potato pie.

Dockery bought fresh sweet potatoes Tuesday morning at the Wayne County Senior Center, which now has fresh produce available to the seniors every Tuesday.

Travis Uzzell has been going to the Senior Center for the past two months and brings a variety of produce including red potatoes, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, peaches and canned peppers. In the fall, he plans to add beets, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, carrots and cauliflower to the list.

"I know some people are not as accessible to fresh fruit and vegetables," Uzzell said. "God put it on my heart to look after the people who don't have it. When I get older, I want someone to look after me."

Shirley Jones said she buys something from Uzzell almost every week. She's memorized all his prices, even for specialty items, like blueberry pie, which he occasionally brings with him.

"It's great for us that don't have transportation," she said. "He's very courteous, and he brings his kids with him and they bag our stuff. They're good kids. They're not sassy."

Tuesday Jones bought chew bread, a favorite among the seniors.

"Everyone has a sweet tooth," said Uzzell, who makes the chew bread from scratch with his two children.

Eryn McAuliff, the center's director, said Uzzell's produce sometimes brings double the amount of seniors to the center.

"We were trying to find a way to get the seniors to the farmer's market, but we were having trouble with transportation because of the wheelchairs and walkers," she said. "By him bringing it here and offering good prices, it really helps. It can be hard for someone on a fixed budget to afford fresh produce."

Ms. McAuliff said the center sees about 100 seniors each day, but on Tuesdays it can be almost double that.