Deb Dickerson patiently waits at Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot for the bi-weekly delivery from Fair Foods, a non-profit that distributes surplus fresh fruits and vegetables at various locations around Boston. It’s raining and the truck is running a little late but Deb, Boston Children’s Hospital’s Director of Family, Youth and Community Programs, stays hopeful as always.
When the truck arrives, Deb throws open the front doors of the health center and greets the truck with open arms. A first peek inside the crates reveals red and yellow tomatoes on the vine, fresh apples, baby carrots, Bibb lettuce and more—all in good condition.
The 10 volunteers Deb recruited to help receive, sort and distribute the fruits and vegetables get busy unloading the truck. They are a mix of hospital staff, parents from the Smart from the Start program and residents from the Bromley-Heath housing development next door. Across the board, volunteers are positive, energized and collaborative.
Once everything is unloaded, the sorting begins. “If it’s not good enough for your mother, throw it out!” calls out Deb. In the end, over 100 bags are assembled—each with 1 head of lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 2 bags of baby carrots, 4 apples, 6 limes and 8 onions. At the local grocery store, that would conservatively cost $17.80, but with Fair Foods, the bag is $2 or whatever small amount a family can afford to pay. There are no eligibility requirements and no maximum number of bags per family.
Fair Foods is one of many community programs coordinated for local residents by Boston Children’s at Martha Eliot, which provides primary and preventative care services for children and youth from birth through age 25. “We have been in the heart of Jamaica Plain for more than 40 years providing excellent health care,” says Deb. “We want the community to know that we are also here to help them through our community programs. Fair Foods allows us to better meet the needs of our families who may have trouble getting convenient and affordable access to fresh vegetables and fruits.”
One of the families buying a bag today is Yajaira and her 6-year-old son Yeuris, who is making silly faces and playing with silly putty. He peeks into their $2 bag to check out the contents, and pulls out an apple, squealing, “We love apples!”
Every bag sold or given away is a win. “Working directly with this program is very fulfilling,” says Deb. “We’re pleased that Martha Eliot can offer something like this to make the daily lives of residents in our community just a little easier and healthier.”
Learn more about Boston Children’s Primary Care at Martha Eliot.