ROSEBURG, Ore. -- More Douglas County residents will soon have access to fresh, local produce thanks to a new mobile food pantry.
The Mercy Foundation was just given a $275,000 grant by the Catholic Health Initiative Mission and Ministry Fund. The three-year grant will help fund the mobile food pantry.
The goal is for the mobile food pantry to serve as a farmer’s market style food distribution program.
They will gather and deliver fresh, local produce to areas designated as “food deserts” in Douglas County. In the county, there are seven areas identified as "food deserts," which are five miles or more from a grocery store with produce.
Program Manager Sarah McGregor, with the United Community Action Network Food Bank, said anyone can go to the mobile pantry to get food.
“This is actually more like a marketplace, where anybody, regardless of their income, can come and shop. They’ll be able to use SNAP benefits there, but they’ll be able to just purchase the food,” McGregor said. “It’d be nice if we can also use it as a pantry to help with more distribution, but our plan initially is to really run it like a market.”
McGregor said they’re also trying to get a grant from the USDA, which they will find out about this fall.
If they’re awarded that grant, and the RV they’re retrofitting is done in time, McGregor said they hope to start delivering fresh produce no later than January.