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Taking it to the neighborhoods
Mobile Fresh Kirsten DSC 0714
Second Harvest Food Banks Kirsten Salas manages the Mobile Fresh food program that provides fresh produce to citizens in need in three communities Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The Second Harvest Food Bank is about to get a new refrigerated 28-foot-long trailer that will allow its Mobile Fresh operation to distribute an array of vegetables as well as meats and cheeses to residents in Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy neighborhoods.

Food Bank’s Kirsten Salas – who manages the Mobile Fresh program – said the new trailer was provided through a fund raiser at the Modesto Center Plaza earlier this year that raised $110,000.  She described it as a beverage style delivery vehicle to be pulled by a separate tractor.  Cold items and dairy products and meats will be stored in three separate refrigerated compartments on each side of the trailer.

Food Bank staffers – usually two of them – are joined by volunteers who help carry bags of food to the cars of recipients.  Manteca citizens receive 200 pounds of food twice a month from the Mobile Fresh program.  Lathrop, 150 pounds and Tracy, 200 pounds of food.  For the year Mantecans have received 71,248 pounds of far. All three cities collectively receive an annual 160,000 pounds of fresh produce.

Salas said that Manteca is in need of more volunteers to help.  Her family from her mother and father-in-law and children come out regularly to help where they can, she added. Anyone wanting to join the effort can apply at the Second Harvest warehouse on Industrial Park Drive in Manteca’s Industrial Park.

Those receiving the monthly supplies are given a card to identify them as among those needing help.  They can bring the cards of neighbors who are unable to be at the food delivery program and get their food allotment for them as well.

“Fresh is how we roll,” Salas noted.  “It is a pilot February to December program funded by the Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and Tracy Hospital Foundation.”

 Those agencies have provided some $25,000 this year and the Food Bank is hoping that will be doubled next year to match the need.

Aside from their grant, she said others freely donate their products to add to the warehouse storage.  “We do have meats, cheese, pineapple and strawberries that we offer to the citizens.”

Salas said that the Manteca warehouse office email’s the Mobile Fresh recipients monthly with recipes and other cooking ideas to help them prepare the foods they will be receiving.

She said she was amazed with the creativity of the public who used an overflow of bananas to make smoothies for their families and how they dressed up their veggies to please the palates of their children.

Salas has collected a series of testimonials that give credence to their outreach efforts in the food giveaway they undertake each month.  One appreciative woman wrote:

“I’m off work due to breast cancer.  We are down to one income.  This could really help us out. Thank you in advance.”

Another expressed her feelings saying, “I can go pay my water bill now that I was given food at Mobile Fresh last week!”

And yet another said, “Mobile Fresh.  I saw this place on Facebook saying free veggies for low income folks. So I went there, met at the church and waited in line – very nice fresh veggies and goodies sometimes.  All the folks at Mobile Fresh are nice and helpful.  Why do I come there?  On low income and if I go to the store I skip veggies (because) of the high cost.  So, I’m going to Mobile Fresh as much as they are open.  I wish there was more places like this one in town.  I don’t drive, so this place is a mile from me to walk with a cart.  Thanks Mobile Fresh.  You rock.  Keep up the good work.”

And finally, another woman wrote, “I just wanted to say thank you!  I made it to the Mobile Fresh today and everyone there was so helpful and friendly.  Thanks for the great job that all the staff does.  Everything is greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much!”

 “We see a direct correlation between the consumption of fresh foods and health,” Salad said. “It is important for us to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”