By Bruce Corcoran
Chatham-Kent is in line for another miracle. This one comes to you, starting Sept. 15.
In the wake of the May 16th Miracle food drive that spanned the municipality, we will soon see the Mobile Miracle Market.
The Market is a weekly market travelling to communities across Chatham-Kent to hand out boxes of fresh, local produce.
Phillip Mock, project co-ordinator with the CK Prosperity Roundtable and a lead hand with the Market, said the idea is to get locally grown produce into the hands of those who need it most.
Mock said the federal government is helping to fuel the project with its Emergency Community Support Fund. He added the United Way of Chatham-Kent and the Chatham-Kent Community Foundation supports the Market as well and helped secure the federal funding.
Also on board are top organizers with the May 16th Miracle (which saw tonnes of non-perishable food items collected on door steps across Chatham-Kent), CK Public Health and the Wheatley Area Food Bank, as well as aid from TekSavvy.
Mock said the idea began following the success of the May 16 Miracle.
“Our community came together like never before,” he said. “This is a time where we can keep producing miracles.”
He said COVID-19 restrictions have led to financial struggles for a lot of people. On top of that, healthy food options continue to rise in price.
“The need for healthy food options has increased. And so has the price. We’ve seen a 10.6-per-cent increase in the price of healthy food in Chatham-Kent over the past five years,” Mock said.
The Market will operate Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. It will begin in smaller communities in the municipality – places without grocery stores, for example.
“We’re starting out in places like Thamesville and Highgate that don’t have a lot of food support,” Mock said.
He added the goal is to work with local food banks.
“There are places that might have food banks and emergency food suppliers, but we’re working in concert with them. We’re here to supplement support as best we can,” Mock said. “All we’re providing is fresh local produce.”
Starting in the smaller communities will serve as a pilot project of sorts for the Market, Mock said, allowing organizers and volunteers to work any unseen kinks out of the system before proceeding to higher population centres.
Over the coming weeks, the Mobile Miracle Market will begin to expand to cover as many communities across Chatham-Kent as possible.
The concept is “take a box, give a box,” with the cost of a box listed at $15. But putting a price point on the box of produce is not intended to bar people from getting food; instead it is a gifting point for supporters.
“Anyone who needs it can get a free box. No question, no judgment,” Mock stressed. “If you want to donate, you are welcome to. You are not paying off your box, you are paying off someone else’s.”
Inside those boxes will be seasonally available local fresh produce, from peaches to apples to beans and peppers.
Mock said the Market is looking for volunteers at various levels as well. They can use folks to help distribute the boxes in their home communities, others to help pack the boxes, and still more to help harvest the produce.
To sign up, or learn more about the Market, visit www.mobilemiraclemarket.com or find them on Facebook.
“The more volunteers, the better. This is a community project,” Mock said.