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Students gathered at the bright green and gold awning outside the Clara Dasher Student Center under sunny skies to take advantage of the Essex County College Farmers Market held on Thursday, May 16.
Over the course of just a few hours, ECC’s Office of Student Care Services distributed for free over a ton (2,071 pounds) of fruits and vegetables to 158 students. The food giveaway was funded through the Hunger Free grant from the state Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, said Dr. Leigh Bello, Associate Dean of Student Affairs/Special Projects, Office of Student Affairs.
“I love it. I always stop by after class whenever there is a food giveaway,” said Isabel, as she presented her full basket for weighing after selecting her fruits and vegetables from bins placed on tables. The bins were continually filled during the giveaway.
The May 16 Farmers Market was the first food giveaway for Gene. “I will be back,” he promised after having his basket weighed.
The next Farmers Market is scheduled for June 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dr. Bello said the fruits and vegetables Farmers Market was the first of this kind the College has conducted. She said the office conducts free food giveaways throughout the year with various “grab and go” items, sandwiches and breakfast items. There are also Open Food Pantry Days. “These are all designed to provide healthy foods for our students,” she said.
Fruits available ranged from bananas and honey dew melons, to mangoes and strawberries. Just a few of the vegetables offered were carrots, corn, cucumbers, onions, spinach and tomatoes.