Greetings from Val at Cowan Community Center.
“It looks like a war effort.” Bennett Quillen, featured Grow Appalachia participant reflected as he walked into the CANE Kitchen last Wednesday to deliver fresh strawberries, potatoes, peas, lettuce, zucchini and more garden bounty for the Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation FARMACY program. I certainly don’t want to make light comparisons, but there is a feeling of urgency, as we all try to stay safe this summer. No matter our politics or feelings, the pandemic is taking lives and changing lives. We at Cowan Community Center and CANE Kitchen are doing what we can to lighten the load and lessen the pressures for our community. We were full force last Wednesday and again today as Bennett delivered. Truly, everyday feels like a week these days.
The USDA Summer Food Service Program has been full force for six weeks now. Our meal count at the end of June was 275,000 total meals distributed and working with 14 sites across the county. We are able to employ close to 40 workers to work a minimum of 20 hours per week and income is pushing $50,000 per month. Most of the workers are young adults and are working so hard during the heat, staying cool, calm and collected while practicing Covid 19 Safety precautions. We have two tractor trailers arrive now on Monday morning between 4 and 6 a.m. and the team begins sorting and bagging. A milk truck arrives delivering up to 3,000 gallons of milk per week. One gallon per child served. Bread is delivered and our task is to assemble and be ready for the community by 9 a.m. We ran out last week, so we increased our order for July. More families continue to sign up for the meal plans. You see a team member loading a meal kit for a family with two children. Fresh local produce is included in meal kits when available.
On Wednesday, CANE Kitchen begins to prep for MCHC Farmacy bags. Unfortunately, Farmacy patients don’t join us at the market this year, to eliminate their risk with crowds at the market. We gather produce on Wednesday and distribute to over 100 patients with diet related health issues on Thursday in a safe drive thru at CANE Kitchen. Our farmers deeply appreciate having the continued opportunity to provide for community and have a market for their product during this summer. CANE serves as headquarters for gathering produce from local growers. Today we will purchase $3,200 from local growers to meet the Farmacy demand. Strawberries and squash and sorted below to provide a share for all. CANE uses any surplus produce to offer a ready made fresh item to participants. We’ve had pea pesto bread and a summer fruit salad with local honey balsamic dressing. The Farmacy line moves steadily thru for a few hours each Thursday evening and all stay safe with masks and social distancing. Always happy to see Harold drive in on his four wheeler to collect his weekly produce bag. Also, Louise Murtaugh, Market Everything is the bridge between farmers and
In addition to getting food out, Cowan is also reworking our Kids on the Creek Camps. We just sent 250 KIDS on the Creek Camp Bags out to youth to have a virtual camp. Local youth compiling kits and families picking up at the City of Whitesburg Farmers Market.
The Farmers Market has opened w/safety precautions in place. We are offering Double Dollars for Seniors, WIC and SNAP and our Tanglewood2Table walking program. So proud of our growers and community for all their efforts to be safe and protect others.
We are also pushing product. Friends Drift Inn FArm just shipped a load of jams/jellies to KY MIST Moonshine in Myrtle Beach and Orange Beach.
Brandon Fleming is doing so much to keep it all going. He gets his own category.
Personally, we keep going…..enjoy sitting w/the Fathers on the porch and looking at a new granddaughter.
You all be well and talk to you soon.