Free Arvin Farmers’ Market aims to combat ‘food desert’

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The Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank, the Kern County Library, Kern Public Health, and Building Healthy Communities partnered to put on a free farmers’ market at the Arvin Library.

For a county with plenty of farms, not all areas have access to fresh, affordable produce. Many consider Arvin to be a food desert–an area where many are miles away from any produce retailer.

“In the city of Arvin, we have one major grocer, the Vallarta, but that’s in the north side of the city,” explained Arvin’s mayor, Jose Gurrola. “So, residents that are on the outside of the city that are miles away from the Vallarta are technically in a food desert.”

Another issue–while there are plenty of farmer’s markets across Kern County–especially Bakersfield–the fresh, organic produce typically costs more than it does at chain grocery stores.

But now, the free Arvin farmers’ market aims to address the cost issue and quench the food desert.

“Having more access to fruits and vegetables that are affordable to community members is something that I think can help combat that,” Gurrola said.

Nearly 500 people stopped by for fresh watermelon, peaches, and more. Within one hour of the event, all 11,500 pounds of produce were given away.

How were they able to provide the food for free? Cap K sourced the fruits and vegetables from local growers who have a surplus to donate.

“This is just the perfect tie-in opportunity for the community to learn how to have healthier meals at home, and doing it in an atmosphere where we are encouraging people to learn and cultivate their minds,” said Jasmin Lobasso, a marketing and promotions associate at Kern County Library.

Along with the food giveaway, the library had a family movie night. Kern Public Health was also there to educate people on alternatives to sugary drinks.

Due to the success of the event, the partners are hoping to put on more free farmers’ markets in the future.

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