By Luise Gleason, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Most of our Senior Farmers Markets are located inside housing complexes or senior centers which makes them accessible to residents only. Every second and fourth Tuesday, however, we hold a Senior Farmers Market in Paso Robles that is open to the public. Despite its name, people of all ages are welcome to receive food.
More information on our monthly distribution sites can be found here.
If you decide to stop by during one of these distributions, you will meet a great bunch of interesting people – some that have been coming here since the market was first established about seven years ago, others that have stumbled upon the distribution by accident a few years later, and yet others who are complete newcomers.
This is exactly what happened when we decided to mingle with the recipients on August 28th. Standing far away from the usual waiting line, we meet John with his dog Nikki Bella. Due to being accompanied by his loyal, four-legged companion, he is considerate enough to keep his distance from the crowd and waits until most of the others have picked up their share before he joins the line. Nikki Bella is actually the reason why John attends this distribution. “About a year and a half ago, I got very sick and could barely walk, but my girl still had to go outside,” explains the 67-year old who lives alone with his dog. “That’s how I found this dog park next door. Sometimes I would come over here to the senior center to use the restrooms, and one morning I came across your market.” John, who now comes every second and fourth Tuesday, says that the fruits and vegetables he receives provide him with a better diet and make his money go further. “I do simple cooking because I am not a big fan of cleaning up afterwards, so I usually just end up steaming or grilling my veggies,” he replies when asked about what he likes to do with the food. “This distribution is really nice to have, it only gets tricky when there’s five weeks in a month and the next market is three weeks away.”
We are joined by newcomer Lila who intrudes herself as Rainbow. She quickly lets us know with a big smile on her face that she just relocated here from Berkeley. Then she adds, “A few days after I arrived, I went to the Chamber of Commerce to find out what is happening in my new area, and that’s how I heard about this distribution.” Rainbow, who lives with her partner, prefers growing her own food but being able to receive support from the Food Bank will help with their tight budget after moving. “I love making curry and beans. Whatever vegetables I receive, I will grill and chop. Then I will mix it all together and season it with a little bit of salt right before I eat it,” describes the 61-year old so vividly that people around us start to chime in. “This is a wonderful distribution. The corn and the tomatoes are always really good and fresh,” says another woman.
While the market is in full swing, two friends named Sharon and Diane approach us to let us know that they think that the Food Bank is “the best thing ever” before posing together for a picture. Both of them have been coming here since this market started. “Once a month I bring a check because I don’t always have to come, but I really enjoy being here and getting together with the people,” Diane states proudly. The food distribution has helped the 75-year olds through the last seven years and supplies them with healthier alternatives. “You guys almost always have cabbage,” Diane explains further, “and that I can stretch out depending on what I use it for. If I make soup, I use the whole head, but if I make coleslaw, it gives me several meals. But more important than cabbage are carrots. I love my carrots and I just have to have them. Period.”