By CASEY NICCOLI
Five years ago, Dr. Claudie Biggers, an anatomy and physiology professor, had a dream that would help feed the students at Amarillo College.
At that time, Biggers was the department chair, and she wanted to start an edible garden program around campus where the landscaping consisted of edible plants that students could pick and eat.
“I was working along with High Plains Food Bank gardeners and that was the vision that we had,” said Biggers.
Then came the mobile harvest food truck, “The Garden,” owned and operated by the High Plains Food Bank, which through Biggers’s outreach, became the perfect solution for feeding students, staff and the surrounding community.
The truck distributes an array of fresh fruits and vegetables to AC every Tuesday between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The truck is located on the east side of the Washington Street Campus near the STEM building. Students can either walk up or drive through.
“We don’t require an ID or any financial information other than your name and how many people are in your household,” said Ileana Padilla, an employee of HPFB. “Anybody can pick up a bag of produce, even a single person,” Padilla said.
Students say they enjoy the opportunity to get fresh produce. “The bag was great. It had fresh spinach, oranges, potatoes and lettuce,” said Dione Briones, a psychology major. “I needed these things for my house. It’s hard to support myself as a single woman working and going to class daily. This helps a lot.”
Padilla said giving out fresh produce is an important addition to the non-perishable foods they distribute. “Most food donated to the food bank are canned goods or things that can store for longer. I think our mobile harvest truck is really important because a lot of people that are struggling getting food can get help but they’re not getting those nutritious foods that they need,” said Padilla.
The mobile harvest program is a great resource for students who would otherwise not ask for help, according to Padilla, “We pull for about 150 students a week.”
Kameron Quick, a criminal justice and psychology major, said, “I use the produce truck often. I’m not exactly struggling, so I take what I want from the bag and share the rest with my neighbors.”
Biggers said her vision of a garden landscape changed when the administration asked her to focus on a grant for a greenhouse instead, “We ended up writing the grant and building a greenhouse,” she said. Someday the future of the AC greenhouse might include an edible garden if the interest is there, according to Biggers. “It just takes manpower,” she said.