Bountiful Baskets help fill Mag’s produce need

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Bountiful Baskets made its first delivery to Magdalena Schools’ Fine Arts Center last Friday evening where 67 participants had signed up for their shares of fresh vegetables and fruit.

John Larson/El Defensor Chieftain: David Durham of Hop Canyon checks his share of vegetables and fruit at the Bountiful Baskets pick up last Friday night. Nadine Ulibarri-Keller (left) checks him off the sign-up list as others stand in line.

Fresh produce has been lacking in Magdalena since Trail’s End Market, the village’s only grocer for 57 years, closed in the spring of 2012. With no local source of produce, Magdalena fell into the designation of “food desert.”

Food deserts are defined by the USDA as rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food or convenience stores offering few healthy, affordable grocery food options.

In general terms, communities that are defined by the USDA at food deserts are those with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent, and rural communities whose population live more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store.

Recognizing the community’s need, Nadine Ulibarri-Keller of the Socorro Health Department, along with help from Cynthia Connelly of Healthy Kids-Socorro County, spearheaded an initiative to bring produce to Magdalena.

They found a non-profit organization called Bountiful Baskets, a food co-op run by volunteers who are able to work with farmers to get great prices.

Connelly became aware of Bountiful Baskets by learning about the work done by Coordinators Tamara Fresquez and Paula Camp of Healthy Kids in Chaves County.

“They worked with Bountiful Baskets to bring produce to the small town of Lake Arthur. Since Magdalena no longer has a grocery store, Nadine and I thought this would be a great program for the Village. Nadine set up the contact with Bountiful Baskets and we both have volunteered at the Albuquerque site.

“She contacted Bountiful Baskets with the idea of Magdalena becoming a Bountiful Baskets site in the fall of 2013,” Connelly said. “We both volunteered at the Albuquerque site three times so that we could learn how their system worked.”

Once they were satisfied that the non-profit was on the level and a good deal for participants, they looked into the requirements for local deliveries. The co-op is designed to offer healthy food at discount prices to communities that show enough interest in the program.

“In December, we learned that Magdalena had the potential to become a Bountiful Baskets food delivery site if we could gather 50 to 99 participants, people willing to express interest in the program by registering online,” she said. “Nadine and I were able to contact the Magdalena Village Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Magdalena Schools and use email, flyers, and Facebook to communicate our need to gather participants. In the end, Socorro County “came through and Magdalena was able to get enough participants to become a site and also sell 63 baskets,” Connelly said.

“Communities that are considered to be food deserts are fabulous candidates for Bountiful Baskets, since the food is delivered,” she said. “Participants can purchase conventional baskets for $15 and organic baskets for $25. The baskets sold for $15 contain approximately $50 worth of food, retail.”

Artisan breads and organic granola are usually offered for sale, and items such as cases of heirloom tomatoes and peaches are also sometimes offered, for an additional cost.

As coordinator for Healthy Kids, Connelly said partnering with Bountiful Baskets was a good way to help provide nutritious food to Socorro County residents. “Our goal is to promote healthy eating and an active living to prevent obesity in children,” she said.

Healthy Kids, Socorro County is an initiative funded be the Community Transformation Grant and administered by the Department of Health and the City of Socorro. The Healthy Kids website is www.healthykidssocorro.com.

For more information on Bountiful Baskets contact Nadine Ulibarri-Keller at Socorro Public Health, 575-835-0971 ext. 110, or go to www.bountifulbaskets.org.

 

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