Interview with Allison Maat at COA about Produce Boxes
Allison, as the Recreation and Volunteer Manager at the Newaygo County Commission on Aging, what kind of need are you seeing regarding food and senior residents?
We have seen a large increase in food insecurity among seniors in Newaygo County since COVID-19 hit. When the shut-down happened, we continued running our regular Meals on Wheels program but also added in additional 80 meals per day to those that were in need.
What is the Produce Box Program and who is eligible?
The Produce Box Program is a USDA farm-to-family program that purchases fresh produce from farmers and delivers it to seniors across the country. For us here in Michigan, it is a collaborative effort between the Aging & Adult Services Agency (AASA) of Michigan, the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), and the Commission on Aging (COA) as well as our distributor, VanEerden Food Service of Grand Rapids. Anyone in the county that is 60 and over is eligible for this program. There is no income guideline.
How does someone sign up for the program?
Please contact me, Allison Maat, at the Newaygo County Commission on Aging at 231-689-2100 x 9 to get signed up. If individuals can drive, they may be able to pick up a box every Friday from the COA. If they are home-bound, we may be able to deliver, depending on location. Produce box availability depends on the amount of boxes the COA receives from the State of Michigan, which may change on a weekly basis. The program plans to run through the end of September.
Do you have a success story you can share?
Here is a story from a woman that we deliver the Produce Boxes to on a bi-weekly basis, we will call her Gloria:
When we met Gloria at her door to deliver the box, she explained that she has a serious illness and had been unable to go to the grocery store since March. These boxes of fresh produce and dairy were the only produce that she had access to. She was so thankful for fresh healthy foods because prior to these boxes, she had been living on canned goods.
There have been hundreds of participants across the State of Michigan with their own individual stories of the impact these Produce Boxes have made on their health! Being on the front lines of delivering these boxes has been a wonderful experience, to see the smiles on the faces of participants and the thankfulness they have for these programs. The Commission on Aging is proud to be a committed member of the community in assisting the efforts to decrease food insecurity among Newaygo County Residents.