Northern Essex Community College’s Farmers Market Returns Monthly in January

Volunteering at December’s mobile farmers market were Janel D’Agata Lynch, left, and Courtney Morin, second from right, along with Stephanie Haskell and Zoey Lauria. (Courtesy photograph.)

Northern Essex Community College’s Farmers Market, which provides a free, mobile food market for faculty, staff and students, returns in January and runs monthly on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

When the pandemic hit in March, the college suspended its farmers market, which is offered in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank once a month during the academic year. This past summer, however, a plan was hatched to launch a socially-distanced market in September. Individuals sign up in advance, receive a timed appointment and drive on to campus and get their food without having to leave their vehicle.

“We wanted to get it back up as quickly as possible because we knew food insecurity would increase with COVID-19,” said Janel D’Agata-Lynch, Northern Essex’s civic engagement, service-learning and community resources coordinator.

D’Agata-Lynch estimates that an average of 50 to 60 cars visited each campus for each market and, from September through November, about 250 distinct households and more than 1,000 individuals were served.

Tiffany Bell of Haverhill, a practical nursing student and the mother of six children ages 5 to 23, is one that has taken advantage of the farmers market, saying, “You have no idea how helpful this is…I feel blessed.”

At the December market, Northern Essex volunteers, led by Courtney Morin, the college’s Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, unloaded carrots, cabbage, salad, mangos, onions and sweet potato; packed a bag for each client; and loaded produce into cars. She oversees the Haverhill market as well as food pantries on both campuses,

According to statistics shared by the Greater Boston Food Bank, 47% of community college students and 39% of four-year university students were food insecure before the pandemic.

Comments are closed.