The two organizations are using their combined resources to sponsor cooking courses based on ingredients people receive from the Healthy Harvest mobile farmers’ market, said Amanda Everidge, Healthy 365 healthy community coordinator.
Recipients already were getting recipe cards in their bags of produce, eggs and meat, but Healthy 365 wanted to do more to help the community learn how to eat well, Everidge said.
The Winter Harvest cooking classes will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Jan. 8, Jan. 22, Jan. 31 and Feb. 14 at the offices of Purdue Extension Hancock County, 802 Apple St., Greenfield. Classes will show those who attend how to prepare meals with the produce, meat and eggs they receive from the Healthy Harvest.
Those who are interested in attending should call the extension office at (317) 462-1113 at least three days in advance of the class they want to attend.
The mobile farmers’ market, a partnership between the hospital and Brandywine Creek Farms, a part-nonprofit farm northeast of Greenfield, travels to different parts of the county every week, giving residents without access to fresh produce an opportunity to get vegetables at discounted prices.
Physicians at the hospital and Hancock Physicians Network, as well as staff members at the Hancock County Women, Infants and Children office and several other medical offices and churches, can also provide vouchers to people with a financial or health need. Those individuals receive two bags of food for $1.
In its second year, Healthy Harvest expanded its efforts, adding an extra truck to visit more communities in the county every week and also encouraging schools to refer students who may need some extra healthy produce at home. Students who receive free or reduced-cost lunch in all four county school districts can also be referred to receive the weekly food packages, Everidge said.
“We feel like by reaching out to all of these agencies, we’re reaching as many people as possible, and that’s the true mission,” she said.
This winter, Healthy Harvest partnered with another local farmers market, the Hoosier Harvest Co-op, to be able to provide milk to those who receive the food “prescription” packages, and Tyner Pond Farm, a local farm that provides meat and eggs to the recipients as well.
Everidge said a local high school student donated a cow to the Healthy Harvest, giving them the privilege of giving a pound of ground beef in every package.
Even without the voucher from a physician, the produce offered from Brandywine Creek Farms is more affordable than grocery store prices, officials said. Brandywine Creek Farms co-owner Jonathan Lawler looks up the average price for produce in the county and offers his products for about half that price, he said. Anything left over in the trucks at the end of the day is donated to the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in Greenfield or other area food pantries, he said.