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Due to COVID-19, Philabundance is adapting its efforts to ensure individuals and families
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In the far reaches of Montgomery County bordering Bucks County, where new housing developments meet hundred-year-old farms, you’ll find the picturesque borough of Souderton where people pick fresh fruit off of their trees and sell it on their front lawn to passing travelers. Ironically, while some pick fruit, others don’t have any; Beyond the rolling green hills and corn fields, there’s a well-kept secret: hunger.

Philabundance’s Fresh For All program is a traveling farmers’ market that sets up at the same time, the same day, and at the same place each week. For some of the local residents, like Barb Grote, it’s a life saver.

Barb is a 52-year-old medical diet aide who works ten-hour shifts. One summer, her arthritic knees buckled, and she fell. But she didn’t give up.

“I don’t want to be on the government payroll. I went to work for a week and a half after the fall and it got to the point where I couldn’t stand.” So she had to go out on disability.

While out of work, she earned just sixty percent of her pay (but pays full price for benefits), stretching an already tight budget beyond its means. Her 3 weekly physical therapy sessions, plus the cost of her medications often broke the bank.

When you don’t have much money, you can’t get much, including the fruits and vegetables you need.”

Again, she didn’t give up; Barb secured a discount for her physical therapy, as well as food assistance from Philabundance agency Manna on Main Street, and did what she could to literally get back on her feet, including joining the local Y.

Barb noted that it wasn’t the new physical therapy or exercise regimen or limited budget that was so challenging — her doctor suggested a diet to help her lose weight and get back to work quicker.

“I’m having a harder time with the dieting part. The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is outrageous and I don’t drive so I can’t get to where they offer it cheaper.”

That’s where Fresh For All free produce market has made a big difference.

When she could get to Fresh for All, she got just about 10 pounds of fresh, healthy produce per week, especially fruits and vegetables, which her son really appreciated.

Even better than the free food was the great news that she was going back to work.

“I’m looking forward to going back to work… I miss the residents I worked with and my co-workers. Going back will be helpful to them and I’m going back stronger, which is important.”

While going back to work meant not visiting this idyllic location in Souderton anymore, it also meant more money, and less need for this source of temporary assistance, which will, as always, be there should she need it in the future.