The YMCA Veggie Van is a mobile farmers market traveling around West Michigan providing fresh fruits and vegetables, meals, and pantry staples to the senior population, particularly those who are over 60 and most at risk for severe complications with the COVID-19 virus.
Specifically, the van is distributing meals to seniors in collaboration with AgeWell services. To date, the partnership has offered meals at 14 sites over 8 weeks for a total of 22 different distribution stops with more planned through June. These distribution sites are all over Muskegon and Ottawa County. (Muskegon County sites have been funded through the United Way of the Lakeshore and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County COVID Relief Fund and Senior Millage; Ottawa County sites have been funded through the Grand Haven Community Foundation Emergency Human Needs Fund.) Meals are distributed via drive through at each of the sites to seniors in need. Proxy may pick up meals for up to three seniors unable to make it to the distribution site.
The goal is to distribute 300 meals at each site. Each ‘bundle’ contains five meals and every vehicle may receive up to three bundles as proxy for others – it is limited to three bundles per vehicle. Two of the meals are shelf stable and three of the meals are frozen. As of May 7, over 23,000 meals have been distributed.
The Veggie Van does approximately 17 stops each month in Muskegon County as a mobile farmer’s market around the county to various senior housing stops – and has continued – and increased these stops through the pandemic. Seniors in the senior housing can complete orders which are brought to the Veggie Van to be filled and the order is brought back inside to the participant. The Veggie Van has been increasingly popular as this crisis continues with over 50 orders at multiple stops.