WIC farmers market to provide food for hundreds

mstucka@macon.comJune 24, 2014 

Quidashasia Dunnom of Douglas carries a watermelon back to a trailer at the end of Tuesday’s farmers market for people in the Women, Infant and Children food program.

MIKE STUCKA — mstucka@macon.com Buy Photo

WARNER ROBINS -- Shirley Thomas already had plans to make a pie with the peaches she got Tuesday, and she had more plans for the cantaloupe, plums, bell peppers, watermelon and potatoes.

“I love it. We don’t have to go to Kroger now,” she said as she left a farmers market for clients in the Women, Infants and Children food program.

About 300 people typically turn out in a day for the WIC Farmers Market, said Cindy Carroll, manager of the market. That wasn’t quite the case when the market wrapped up business Tuesday, because statewide computer problems about an hour from the end prevented people from getting the vouchers needed to get the food.

But people who couldn’t get food Tuesday will be placed first in line Wednesday, and people who don’t get to Warner Robins can get food at other events in Macon, Milledgeville and Sandersville, Carroll said.

The farmers market has been going on about 10 years, with special, separate funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an effort to ensure low-income families are more interested in and familiar with fresh produce.

“Our participants are asking about this for months in advance,” Carroll said. They get to pick out their own food, valued at $30, using the vouchers.

The program also helps local farmers. Willie Merrell, of Merrell Produce in Byromville outside Vienna, was busy putting 11 to 12 peaches in a clear plastic bag.

“You get a good bag, mmmhmm,” he said, before switching over to packaging okra. “That’s good stuff.”

The WIC recipients can get six items, such as a watermelon or a bag of okra. Fate Radford was selling produce from his cousin’s 40-acre farm in the Houston County community of Haynesville. He showed his customer what he was selling: collard greens, butter beans, turnips, bell peppers, cucumbers, green tomatoes, red tomatoes, watermelons and cantaloupes. His cousin’s wife, Mary Radford, said the event is good for farmers on several levels.

“I enjoy doing it for the kids,” she said.

The farmers market runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Thursday at the Houston County Health Department, 98 Cohen Walker Drive, Warner Robins; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 1-3 at the Bibb County Health Department, 171 Emery Highway, Macon; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 8-10 at the Felton Homes WIC Office, 150 Sessions Drive, Macon; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 15-17 at the Baldwin County Health Department, 953 Barrows Ferry Road, Milledgeville; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22 at the Washington County Health Department, 201 Morningside Drive, Sandersville. Participants must bring their WIC identification card.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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