Farmer’s Market on campus provides free produce

Large+pallets+of+produce+delivered+to+Mesa+campus+for+students+to+choose+and+take+home+free+of+charge
Large pallets of produce delivered to Mesa campus for students to choose and take home free of charge

Large pallets of produce delivered to Mesa campus for students to choose and take home free of charge

Photo Credit: Aleah Jarin

Photo Credit: Aleah Jarin

Large pallets of produce delivered to Mesa campus for students to choose and take home free of charge

Chelsea Heath, Staff Writer

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               San Diego Mesa College, in partnership with Feeding San Diego, held their first farmer’s market on campus, offering free produce to students, staff, and faculty. The farmer’s market works in conjunction with The Stand, also located on campus, to minimize food insecurity among Mesa students.

              In attendance was Mesa College president Pamela Luster. Luster explained, “We know that fully a third of our student’s don’t know where their next meal is coming from, so we’re really dedicated to making sure we feed people.” Luster also mentioned that the farmer’s market will now be a once a month occurrence.

              Johanna Aleman, a student services technician from the Department of Student Success and Equity, said they were looking to extend the benefits of The Stand’s reach. Aleman explained the students are allotted 50 points a semester to use for food (non perishables)  at The Stand, however, once the points are used, the student’s accounts are frozen. Aleman said, “One of the things we were able to do, we got the Hunger Free Campus money from the state of California. So we went from 50 points to 100 points…but we wanted to supplement that with produce.” She also mentioned that Feeding San Diego will be bringing up to six pallets of fresh produce once a month for the campus farmer’s market.

             The event, scheduled for 3 p.m., started earlier than expected and was a success even with the campus wide power outage. A good portion of the food had already been distributed not long after 3:00. Mesa student Victoria Lord, who happened by the market on her way to class, was able to get two bags of tomatoes, a bag of corn, onions, and fruit. Lord said, “I saw the ‘free produce’ and kind of feel like I should give a donation, this is awesome…this is really awesome.”

              Representatives from Feeding San Diego also attended the farmer’s market.  Sarah Ahern, who works with the programs department of Feeding San Diego said, “We’ve been really working to partner with colleges because the cliche of the starving college student is a reality.” When asked where the produce comes from, Ahern explained, “It comes from either what’s called the California Association of Food Banks, so through that relationship we’re able to get a lot of high volume or high poundage of produce that otherwise would be going to waste…and the other way we get it is through local farms. So that’s usually wider variety and smaller quantities.”

             The next farmer’s market is set for May 17, again in the Sunrise Plaza. All participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags, and don’t forget…it’s free!

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