Community Food Bank of Central Alabama is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and local for-profit food distributors to implement the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) or the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Farmers to Families delivers large amounts of fresh foods to partner sites to be quickly distributed to individuals in need. All foods are prepackaged by for-profit distributors into grocery boxes ranging in size from 15-25 lbs. These preassembled boxes are then delivered directly to partner sites who distribute them to participating families via a “drive-through” distribution system that day. By serving families in their vehicles, volunteers are able to maintain safe social distancing in accordance with CDC guidance.
The food bank launched the Corner Market last August of 2017 to provide healthy, affordable food to low-income families, disabled people, and senior citizens living in neighborhoods without full-service grocery stores. The market serves as a grocery store on wheels. Customers file through the single aisle of the 24-foot trailer browsing through fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, pasta, bread, and other food items. Currently, the Corner Market makers twice monthly visits in Pratt City and Tarrant, and once monthly stops in Dora, Fountain Heights, and Oakman.
While waiting to get inside the trailer to shop for groceries, customers can take advantage of other on-site services. Representatives are on hand to provide health screenings, information about SNAP benefits, Medicare Savings Programs, Farmers’ Market vouchers, and other services. There are also educational cooking demonstrations that offer customers tips on how to prepare nutritious meals for their families.
In a typical month, about 150 people shop at the market, and the food bank plans to extend that reach by adding additional stops as it becomes feasible.
One way Community Food Bank addresses “food deserts” (neighborhoods without a full service grocery store, limited transportation, and high rates of diet-related diseases), is through our Mobile Pantry Program. Mobile pantries allow us to take food directly where it is needed. Through this program we provide fresh produce in addition to shelf stable groceries that families can use to make healthy meals.
Currently, we operate 4 Mobile Pantries: