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Pop-up produce market to provide fresh food for free during the pandemic

The Columbia Food Policy Committee and local farming organizations plan to provide 500 boxes of produce for free.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Fresh fruits and vegetables, that's what the Columbia Food Policy Committee is aiming to provide during an upcoming Pop-Up Produce event.

They are partnering with Diane's Call, Axiom Farms, the City of Columbia and Richland County to host the event on August 25th at Drew Wellness Center in Columbia, starting at 10 a.m.

"The fresher, the better, in my opinion," says Bonita Clemons, farmer and founder of FarmaSis, a Black women's farming empowering group. 

Clemons says fresh produce from local farms can help strengthen a community.

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"I think it's so important when it comes to nutrition, to eat food that's grown as close to us as possible," Clemons says. "We know that when the food is harvested, that's when the nutrition value starts to decrease. We also know that fresh fruits and vegetables, that's the first line of defense for your health."

More than 500 boxes of locally-grown collard greens, turnips, cabbage, kale and peaches will be given out for free.

Food event in Columbia, SC by Columbia SC Food Policy Committee on Tuesday, August 25 2020

The produces comes from WP Rawl and Titan Farms and are being donated through a program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Last year, the Save-A-Lot grocery store, on Harden Street in Columbia, closed its doors, leaving the surrounding community with less food access.

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Ashley Page with the Columbia Food Policy Committee says events like these let citizens know that they have access to fresh food, especially during a pandemic.

"Before COVID-19, food insecurity and food access was a big issue, certainly for Bonita and us at the Food Policy Committee and other organizations," Page says. "With COVID-19, when we talk to folks, their top two issues are food access and housing. So we wanted to do this event to let the community know that we love them and we're in it with them."

The event will allow for drive-thru access, so families don't have to get out of their cars to pick up the produce.