The Kellyn Foundation continues with Mobile Market
With financial assistance from the COVID-19 funds of the Community Development Block Grant of the City of Bethlehem, the Kellyn Foundation has been offering an Eat Real Food mobile market in the old Ahart parking lot since May 1.
The mobile market offers fresh, locally grown produce to residents of southern Bethlehem, including students from Lehigh, and takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Eric Ruth, co-owner and CEO of the Kellyn Foundation, said the foundation has been around for 15 years.
“We are a 501 (c) (3) —our mission is to promote healthy lifestyles throughout a community,” said Ruth. “We have four main initiatives under the title of the Healthy Neighborhood Immersion Strategy. ”
The Eat Real Food mobile marketplace is part of the Food Access Initiative.
The goal of the Access to Food initiative is to “ensure that every neighborhood has healthy, whole food options throughout the year, as locally sourced as possible, that are convenient. , accessible and affordable, ”said the Kellyn Foundation website.
The closure of Ahart’s last April further reinforced the statement of South Side as a “food desert” by the USDA. There is only one grocery store, which is C-Town.
The city of Bethlehem appealed to the Kellyn Foundation to fill this lack of resources.
While there are plans to eventually open a new grocery store, the Kellyn Foundation will continue to serve the community until a new grocery store opens, Ruth said.
“We will not be leaving,” he said.
Ruth said that while South Side residents were previously eligible for vouchers worth up to $ 20 worth of product once a week, they are no longer available.
“We and the city both predicted that the funding would survive the end of October, but the response has been so large that we’ve used up virtually all of the funding already,” said Ruth. “The city of Bethlehem is investigating other potential sources of income and money that may be available to continue for longer.”
Bethlehem resident Steve Chase has been coming to the mobile market for three months.
“How can you go wrong? You get $ 20 in free food and pay the difference, ”Chase said. “It’s a great opportunity. These are all fresh products.
With the pandemic, Chase said, most people are in a situation where they are financially constrained and affordability is more important than ever.
Chase recognizes that Lehigh’s students are also financially burdened and believes it is important for students to take advantage of the mobile market.
“It’s great,” said Chase. “I’ve never had anything wrong here. Everything is grown locally, so it’s something else, giving to people and for people.
Chase said he would continue to attend the mobile market even if there was no more funding across town, pointing out that the market’s products were still much more affordable and accessible than other grocery stores.
Sarah Starr, 22, has just attended the market for the second time.
“I needed to go shopping, and the other (market) is really far,” Starr said.
Starr said she decided to give the mobile market a try after hearing about it from friends. She left the market with broccoli and asparagus.
“So far, everything is fine,” Starr said. “Everyone is super nice here. I heard their funding has run out, which is really sad, but I’m going to come anyway.
Starr said she recognizes the importance of healthy food options for South Side residents.
“There isn’t a lot of groceries here, and obviously the residents need it,” she said.
Ruth said participation is crucial in the following weeks.
“If participation decreases, the city will not reimburse it,” he said.
He said he was pushing residents to keep coming even without the $ 20 voucher.
Many South Side residents have frequented the mobile market since it opened in May and have built a strong relationship with Ruth and the other Kellyn volunteers.
“It’s been a tough time for a lot of families and to access it and have it unpretentious,” Ruth said. “We just do this together. So that’s really good. They are awesome. I love them. And I think they like us. We are talking about health and nutrition and eating real food regularly. “
Both Chase and Starr have said they will continue to purchase groceries from the Eat Fresh mobile marketplace.
“It brings the community together,” Chase said.