By Daniel Pineda
Amarillo College students say they are grateful for the services they receive from the High Plains Food Bank Mobile Harvest Program.
“For the most part, everyone we serve is extremely appreciative. We have received all kinds of cards, notes and meals to say thank you,” Justin Young, the nutrition education director at High Plains Food Bank, said.
The idea for the mobile garden was first pitched by Justin’s wife, Cara Young, around six years ago.
“Cara envisioned the Mobile Harvest Program as a way to serve areas with low access to healthy produce and reduce waste at the food bank,” Justin said.
After acquiring and restoring the produce truck, Justin and Cara began to distribute to AC’s Washington Street Campus, Heal the City Clinic and the ACTS Community Center in the fall of 2019.
“The mobile garden comes on campus every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The truck parks next to the STEM Research Center,” Dr. Claudie Biggers, a biology professor, said.
The mobile garden’s service is free of charge for anyone. “Once at the distribution line, students will be asked questions for the purpose of reporting to the agencies that donate the produce,” Biggers said. Some of the questions asked include the person’s name, how many people are in his or her family and if the person has been there before.
“This is nice for people. Fresh produce can be quite expensive, especially if you’re a student and you can’t work all too much. So, it really helps. It’s a good thing,” Denise Robinson, a physical therapy major, said.
According to Biggers, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the mobile garden was already a needed and welcomed service.
“After the pandemic caused many to lose income and jobs, the need for the service amplified. During the summer, over 125 vehicles lined down the street for blocks, and received benefits weekly,” Biggers said.
Evan Blunt, an art major, said that the service is very good and he is glad that it is available.
“Since the pandemic, I kind of have had less income, so it’s been really helpful to have extra potatoes or whatever they have available and save some money for other groceries,” Blunt said.
However, as more governmental support has become available for families, the number of people using the service numbers has decreased since November.
“Pre COVID, we would see approximately 400 to 500 people per week. As of right now, we are seeing closer to 200,” Justin said.