The Rapidian

Local Pantry is Investing in Local Agriculture

UCOM has invested over $46,000 in locally grown food since July 2017
Underwriting support from:

A Reliable Resource for Regionally Grown Food

The Farm Stand at UCOM is open when the Healthy Choice Pantry is open:

Monday from 1:00-4:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00-3:00 p.m., and Thursday from 2:00-8:00 p.m.

This gives neighbors a chance to take home additional produce when they visit. They can also stop in throughout the month to keep their home stocked with affordable, locally grown produce.  90% of neighbors who shop the Farm Stand visit at least once a month.

A Visit to Visser Farm- Katie, UCOM Pantry Manager

A Visit to Visser Farm- Katie, UCOM Pantry Manager /Visser Farms

Spring Vegetables-In Stock Soon!

Spring Vegetables-In Stock Soon! /Karrie Brown

United Church Outreach Ministry has been on a journey towards improving the health of the community for the past few years.  

“UCOM has spent the past several years moving towards a new model of service for our community in southwestern Kent County.  Our Culture of Health has spread across all of our programs and has launched new initiatives.  In 2017 we expanded to include a low-cost Farm Stand which brings locally grown produce into our community.  With this new service for neighbors, UCOM has been investing in our local famers in a significant way,” says Dr. Bruce Roller, Executive Director of UCOM.

Since the Farm Stand program launched in July of 2017, UCOM has purchased over $46,000 in Michigan grown produce. The majority of that money has been spent at farms in Kent and Ottawa Counties.  This local investment has helped UCOM build relationships with local growers, like Visser Farms.  Katie, the Pantry Manager at UCOM, had an opportunity recently to visit Visser Farms with several colleagues from other food pantries that have also implemented the Farm Stand Model.  

One important part of the Farm Stand program happens the first Friday of everyone month when UCOM does Farm Stand on the Road. The fruits and vegetables are transported to two senior apartment complexes where residents are known to line up to shop. For seniors with transportation barriers, the food they shop for at Farm Stand on the Road may be the only food they are choosing for themselves during the month. Many no longer drive, and taking the bus is a struggle because of the walk from the store to the bus stop and the bus stop to their apartment with heavy bags of groceries.  They receive pre-packaged meals delivered to them, but love the dignity that comes from making their own choice. 

At a recent Farm Stand on the Road, one resident shared "If you didn't come to me, I wouldn't have fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. I cannot tell you how much this means to me!"

UCOM is proud to be a part of people living healthier, happier lives!  The majority of the funding for the Farm Stand comes from the Heart of West Michigan United Way.  Other supporters include the SpartanNash Foundation and many individual donors who believe in the Eat Healthy Live Healthy programs at UCOM.  Another way this program is funded is through events that UCOM holds throughout the year, like the upcoming Friends of UCOM Benefit Concert. In its 17th year as one of the organization's premier fundraisers, the concert will be held on Sunday, April 19 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Plymouth United Church of Christ, located at 4010 Kalamazoo Ave. SE Grand Rapids.  Tickets are $25 each, and because the venue and the performances are all being provided as a donation, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to support neighbors and programs, like the Farm Stand, at UCOM. 

World renowned opera contralto and West Michigan native, Gwenneth Bean will sing. She has performed at Carnegie Hall 11 times and has shared the stage with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.  Additionally, POSH4 will perform. This group features 4 pianists playing simulatneously on 2 grand pianos.  It is something you have to experience. Tickets are available the night of the event or can be purchased in advance at http://bit.ly/foUCOMbenefit

Those wishing to support the Farm Stand who cannot attend the concert can donate directly to the program at UCOM's website, http://ucomgr.org

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