As we begin our last month of Winter Mobile Farmers Markets, and enter our full Farmers Market season, we would like to introduce you to our lead Mobile Farmers Market sponsor, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim's mission to improve the quality and value of health care for the people and communities they serve. Created in 1980, the Foundation provides the tools, training, and leadership to help build healthy communities by supporting programs that provide access to fresh, healthy food; improve the health of communities impacted by health disparities; and support their employees as they invest their time and talents across the region. The Foundation has a staff of 9 and is led by President Karen Voci.
The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation has been the lead sponsor of the REC Mobile Farmers Market since 2012, when they provided the seed money to help us retrofit our market van and pilot the initiative. We recently spoke with Mike Devlin (Director of Grants and Initiatives at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation) about why the Foundation has chosen to support the REC's Mobile Farmers Market Program:
"In 2017, more than $1.57 million in grants was distributed to the Foundation's Healthy Food Fund initiatives within the region, with funds supporting programs that grow, distribute and/or market fresh food for low-income families and communities across the region. The Foundation continues to support its fleet of mobile produce markets in Hartford, CT; Worcester and Lowell, MA; Lewiston/Auburn, ME; and the seacoast of NH.
Mobile Farmers Markets are proving effective at overcoming barriers of availability and cost that prevent families from consuming recommended amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our goal for the REC Mobile Farmers Markets is the same as for our other 24 Healthy Food Fund projects we support across the region: to increase access to fresh, healthy local food for low-income families and communities. In New England's second largest city, the REC's Mobile Farmers Market has proven its ability to do that. For seniors who find it difficult to go shopping, and those Worcester residents who don't live anywhere near to a grocery store, the Mobile Farmers Market has filled an essential need by consistently coming to the same stops week after week, year after year.
The Harvard Pilgrim Foundation is very proud of the REC's ability to outreach and make sure people know about this amazing community and food resource. They are a model for success. We're always excited to see how the Mobile Farmers Market outdoes itself year after year. Just when you think they can't serve any more people, they find a way to do it! And the fact that the Mobile Farmers Market team has made the Mobile Farmers Market a year-round effort contributes to getting more fresh food to more local families. That makes us very happy!"
Thank you for your generous sponsorship and avid support,
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation!