The Evanston Producemobile recently celebrated its second anniversary of serving fresh produce and vegetables to Evanston’s most at-risk populations. Dec. 9 marked the 25th individual disbursement, which takes place on the second Tuesday each month. The project is coordinated by Action of Evanston, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the City of Evanston.
Inclement Weather Solution
“Probably the most exciting day was a gear ago December” according to Producemobile Coordinator and Interfaith Action Board Member Paul Traynor. “Up until that point, we’d been serving outside — rain or shine — but when I woke up that morning at 6 a.m. to a wind-chill factor of 25-below and about a foot of snow, I panicked. I thought we’d have to cancel. There was no way we could subject our guests or our volunteers to such brutal conditions. But per usual, the staff at Robert Crown went of of their way to offer a solution, and our amazing volunteers came out and made it happen, running hundreds of boxes of food on handcarts down the ramp and in the building.”
“It’s been enlightening.” said Robert Lloyd, manger of the center. It’s given the Robert Crown Center and the city a chance to meet and get to know a part of the community that we don’t interact with as much. It gave us a chance to talk to them, and find our their needs pertaining to recreational and community services.”
Strong Volunteer Response
The community’s response has been overwhelming. The Producemobile serves an average of 270 family units each moth, representing well over 1,000 people who are able to receive a week’s worth of fresh produce due to the initiative. About 35 volunteers turn up to arrange and serve the produce — many of them “regulars,” who return month after month to help out.
“I volunteer because I am a nurse, and having nutritious food to eat is important to people being well, ” said regular volunteer Andrea Nowack. “I also enjoy the company of the other volunteers. It’s fun!”
To date, the Evanston Producemobile has served more than a quarter of a million pounds of food to over 25,000 hungry individuals. Any leftover food each month is picked up and distributed by Evanston ‘s Hillside pantry twice a week.