08/08/13 — Produce delivery program now accepts SNAP payments

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Produce delivery program now accepts SNAP payments

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 8, 2013 1:46 PM

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Roman Thomas, left, and Lewis Valentine look over the produce available at the Herman Park Farmer's Market Wednesday. Thomas and Valentine both deliver for Produce Ped'lers, an organization that delivers fresh produce from the farmer's market across Goldsboro.

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Roman Thomas, left, sits on his rickshaw as he and Lewis Valentine wait to take out deliveries at the Herman Park Farmer's Market Wednesday.

Roman Thomas and Louis Valentine don't mind that the produce-laden three-wheeled rickshaws don't corner well or that they offer no relief from the hot muggy weather or the rain.

Pedaling the rickshaws across Goldsboro means much more, they say, than the paychecks earned through their part-time jobs with the Produce Ped'lers program.

It is a way to give back to their elders who have done so much for them and other people, but who now are unable to get out and shop for fresh produce on their own, the two Goldsboro men said.

"I am doing it from the heart -- being able to give back to the older people who gave to the young," Valentine said.

Plus, said Pamela Williams, the project's new coordinator, Produce Ped'lers also is helping to better connect local farmers with area residents.

"It is helping a lot of people, and we are starting to hear our name around," she said as she waited Wednesday to load up the two rickshaws with produce purchased from the Farmer's Market at Herman Park.

One big change this year is that for the first time residents may use their federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) benefits to pay for their pre-orders.

"That is extremely important because a lot of the clients that we serve are eligible for SNAP and they do have that resource available to them," she said. "SNAP is just another option. Should they not have cash, they won't have to worry about it.

"SNAP will give them a receipt. They will see how much they have left on their card just like in a regular store. So we take SNAP, debit or cash."

Pre-orders for delivery of fresh produce are being taken on Mondays and Tuesdays for Wednesday free delivery to homes around the Herman Park and public housing areas in Goldsboro.

"Actually we are going to begin doing pre-orders all week because we are starting to pick up so much," she said. "People are calling all through the week. So we are going to step up the pre-order and take them all week."

Produce Ped'lers also will deliver each first Sunday to local church congregations, as well as corner stores and local restaurants that wish to purchase fresh produce and have it delivered to their location.

Nadine McEachern of Goldsboro was working at her mother's, the Rev. Sarah Morgan's, booth at the farmer's market.

Ms. McEachern said that her mother, who is 77, has been selling fresh produce for 18 years.

"I have been out here with her for two years and I enjoy it," she said.

Her booth Wednesday featured locally grown corn, watermelons, butterbeans, peas, apples, peaches and okra. Tomatoes and squash are probably the most popular items and usually sell out each week, she said.

"I think it (Produce Ped'lers) is a good program for the ones who can't get out," she said. "I really like it. It is a good thing."

It also helps the people selling at the market, she said.

Produce Ped'lers is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmer's Market promotion grant.

Undersecretary of Agriculture Kevin Concannon was in Goldsboro last summer, along with other officials including former Congresswoman Eva Clayton, to help launch the program that is partnership between N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University's Center for Environmental Farming System and the Wayne Food Initiative.

"This part (Produce Ped'lers) of the project is key in making fresh, locally grown, produce available to all people in our community, which is the primary goal of the program," said Shorlette Ammons, Community Foods Systems outreach coordinator for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems Small Farm Unit. "Another goal of the program is to employ local residents to make our communities healthier, so we are currently hiring more Ped'lers to help deliver fresh produce around Goldsboro."

WAGES, Dillard Academy Charter School, the Wayne County Health Department, the Wayne Food Initiative, the City of Goldsboro and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, teamed up to launch the program that employs youths and trains them on farmer's market management, Ms. Ammons said.

The program is looking for people who are interested in growing and delivering fresh produce to Goldsboro neighborhoods, mostly low-income areas, via bikes, she said,

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to lift 30 pounds.

For more information call 919-988-3077 or send email to producepedlersnc@gmail.com.

To place an order or for more information contact Ms. Williams at 608-633-4821 or visit the website at www.producepedlers.com.

People also can call 919-988-3077.