The Mount’s monthly Farmers Market took a new form on Tuesday, April 21, when the sports and wellness department offered a free Curbside Produce Pick Up. Students from both campuses were invited to swing by the Doheny Campus to grab a bag filled with free fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Students value their health and it’s our responsibility to support them however we can,” says Alison Halpern, wellness manager. “Normally we hold a Farmers Market once a month on each campus. We set up tables with red-checkered tablecloths and students can shop it like they would a regular farmers market.”
Due to the University closure in March, the Farmers Market was cancelled. But Halpern thought with a little creativity, they could be back in business for April. Why not have students sign up for a drive-thru pick up?
For three years, the sports and wellness department has built a relationship with the Westside Food Bank. The Farmers Market began as a trial in October 2017 and was such a hit that in 2018 it became a monthly event. The university normally gets a distribution of 800-1,000 pounds of produce delivered each month by the food bank.
The Westside Food Bank was happy that Mount Saint Mary’s still wanted a delivery for April. So early Tuesday morning a team of volunteers comprised of Student Affairs staff, along with Linda McMurdock, vice president for student affairs, and Debra Martin, vice president for administration and finance, pre-packed cabbage, zucchini, bell peppers, oranges, apples, pears, bananas and potatoes into five-pound bags.
In order to keep both staff and students safe, Halpern and her team established safety protocols. Students and their passengers would be required to wear masks, as well as campus volunteers. The bags would be set on a table that cars would pull up next to and students would pick up the bags themselves, instead being handed them directly. “We tried to make it as contactless as possible,” said Halpern.
Students began arriving at the Doheny campus at 11 am and over the course of four hours, volunteers distributed 90 bags.
There was even one special delivery for the day. “There are currently 28 students living on the Chalon Campus, and because we wanted all students to be able to enjoy the produce, we had a staff member drive up and deliver their bags so they didn’t have to worry about leaving campus,” says Halpern.
Besides the innovative Farmers Market, the sports and wellness department has transitioned all of their services online, including offering stress management techniques, recipes, at-home workouts, a live virtual meditation class with a professional instructor, a live virtual peer-led conversation group, and a newsletter. “We even have our peer wellness advocates offering tips on how they are coping,” says Halpern. “And we started something called ‘Self-care Sundays’ that offer budget beauty project ideas via video. We’ve all had to get a little creative, I think.”