The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) launched its fourth community college free Mobile Market in April at Northern Essex Community College (NECC), which serves the school’s Haverhill and Lawrence campuses. Roughly one in 10 people in these cities is food insecure.
The NECC free Mobile Market’s first distribution served 284 households, potentially reaching 972 people. Each Mobile Market participant, like NECC students Carla and Alba, took home 25-30 pounds of free, fresh fruits and vegetables.
“When I started in September, I observed there was a fair amount of social service needs at our college,” said Karen Hruska, director of counseling and psychological services at NECC, and Mobile Market coordinator.
GBFB offers free Mobile Markets at three other community colleges: Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, Mass Bay Community College in Wellesley, and Bristol Community College in Fall River. The Bunker Hill and Bristol Community College Mobile Markets operate year round; Northern Essex and Mass Bay only during the school year. The three sites combined serve an average of 1,300 people in need every month.
Both NECC and Mass Bay Community College offer produce-only distributions.
“When we eat healthier, we’re more focused and can study better,” Karen said. “The healthiest food is often the most expensive, so it’s great we can provide the really healthy stuff for free.”