Tailgate Produce Parties return to Siskiyou County starting Tuesday, May 8. The program allows residents who income qualify to select free, fresh produce for their households.
Built on a “Donate Don’t Dump” Foodlink program and locally administered by Great Northern Services, Tailgate Produce Parties bring a semi-truck full of fresh produce for free distribution to four Siskiyou County locations every month from May through October.
In south Siskiyou County, the free produce will be available the third Tuesday of each month starting May 15 at 11 a.m. at the Great Northern Services warehouse, 310 Boles Street in Weed.
GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus said the program is “an exciting opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables to our community directly from farmers and food producers. Fresh fruits and vegetables are key to healthy eating, but can be hard to afford if your food budget is tight.”
During the 2017 season the program helped an average of 400 households per month for the six months that it ran, according to GNS.
“We really like the program,” said Karla C., a 2017 Tailgate Produce Party participant from Weed. “We came every month and enjoyed having the fruits and vegetables we usually don’t purchase.”
“The Tailgate Produce Parties generate a lot of enthusiasm,” says GNS Marketing Assistant Nichole McCown. “Everything coming off the truck is good quality and some things make people exclaim right out loud – like the asparagus, strawberries, watermelons, or eggplants we saw last season.”
Income eligibility requirements are not as restrictive as people sometimes think, according to Solus. For instance, a household of one person may have a maximum gross monthly income of $1,507.50, and a household of four people may have a maximum gross monthly household income of $3,037.50. Participants self-certify their eligibility and are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags. Solus added that it doesn’t matter where in Siskiyou County participants live. “If you income qualify, we invite you to come to every Tailgate Produce Party we host!”
Tailgate Produce Parties are a result of a partnership between GNS and California Emergency Foodlink, an organization that connects with farmers and growers throughout California to redistribute between 10 and 12 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise have been discarded.
GNS then partners with other community organizations – including Siskiyou Opportunity Center, Siskiyou Community Food Bank, the Dorris Lions Club, and private volunteers – to help organize the different locations.
“This experience is super important to our clients, they love the interaction with the public and especially love serving the commodities,” said Kristina Jackson, program director of Community Endeavors for the Siskiyou Opportunity Center. “Our staff, their children and other family members also participate in sorting, distributing and help deliver food to the people’s vehicles.”
The high level of participation in the program brings many different members of the community together. “I’ve seen people swapping recipes and preparation tips,” said McCown.
When and Where
• 2nd Tuesday monthly starting May 8 at 11 a.m. at the Siskiyou Opportunity Center at 321 North Gold Street in Yreka.
• 2nd Tuesday monthly starting May 8 at 2 p.m. in the parking lot at 6655 North State Highway 3 in Greenview.
• 3rd Tuesday monthly starting May 15 at 11 a.m. at the Great Northern Services warehouse, 310 Boles Street in Weed.
• 3rd Tuesday monthly starting May 15 at 2 p.m. at Butte Valley Community Park in Dorris.
For more information call GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus at 938-4115, extension 128. Great Northern Services is a community based nonprofit focused on helping low-income households become economically self-sufficient in order to boost sustainability for the rural communities in Siskiyou County. Learn more about GNS and its programs at www.gnservices.org.