Nearly every Monday in August you can expect to see Manna’s walk-in refrigerator bursting at the seams with summer fruits. Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and peaches are stacked in crates that reach to the ceiling. And, yes, those are all fruits, botanically speaking. One by one each pallet of the season’s bounty is brought out to Manna volunteers who enthusiastically fill boxes and racks destined for a Manna distribution site. During the peak of the growing season, families can expect to receive approximately 20 pounds of fresh, regionally produced fruits and vegetables.
Sharing this abundance wouldn’t be possible without the extremely hard work of dozens of farmers around the region who regularly contribute to Manna’s Farm to Food Bank program at a partnering Montgomery County farmers market. The generosity of market customers and funds from the County Community Grants program allow us to provide a small stipend to each vendor but most vendors donate much more than this modest payment could ever cover. What’s more, a few vendors go out of their way in the winter months to continue to deliver product to Manna’s Gaithersburg facility.
In addition to the important role supporting local farms has in creating a more food secure Montgomery County, it’s also critical to the promotion of a healthier Montgomery County. Based on our annual participant survey, 83% of participants report that receiving fresh produce from Manna contributes to improving their health.
We often celebrate Manna’s partnerships with City of Rockville, Olney Farm & Artisans Market and Central Farm Markets but we don’t often get to shout our gratitude to those many growers who fill Manna’s trucks with sweet corn in the summer, delicate leafy greens in the spring, and hearty squash in the fall. We will be recognizing them this month by providing a sign that our partners can display at market. Please help us thank them by patronizing these Farm to Food Bank supporters at a participating farmers market this weekend.