Seacoast Area Mobile Market is officially open for business. (Photo courtesy of the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation).

Seacoast Area Mobile Market is officially open for business. (Photo courtesy of the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation).

SAMM hits the road with fresh fruits and veggies in tow

Seacoast Area Mobile Market (SAMM) brings fresh, local food to area residents

Seacoast Eat Local, a nonprofit that connects area residents with locally grown food, has teamed up with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation to launch Seacoast Area Mobile Market (SAMM) – a brightly colored, retrofitted van turned mobile food market. SAMM was unveiled to the public last week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dover.

SAMM, the first of its kind in New Hampshire, will make stops across Milton, Rochester, Farmington and Dover thanks to a $180,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation, and an $80,000 grant from the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to purchase and retrofit the van.

SAMM will be on the road through the end of September and resume next spring.

“Staring today, the Seacoast Area Mobile Market will be selling fresh, local fruits and vegetables directly to area residents where they live and work,” said Jill Hall, program director of Seacoast Eat Local. “We are particularly focused on communities that do not have farmers’ markets of their own, have high concentrations of low-income or at-risk residents, are designated as being at higher risk for food insecurity, or have a reportedly high number of residents with lack of access to consistent means of transportation.”

SAMM will accept EBT/SNAP benefits for purchases and will also run incentive programs that are aimed at helping low-income individuals stretch their dollars at markets and purchase more fresh, local and healthy food.

“Seacoast Eat Local has become a community leader in providing local food to Seacoast area residents,” said Simon Delekta, senior program officer at the Charitable Foundation. “They identified a barrier to serving our neighbors suffering from food insecurity – transportation – and came up with a plan to start solving it. Thanks in part to the generosity of the Thomas W. Haas Fund, this mobile market is now a reality.”

William Brewster, Vice President of NH Regional Market for Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare, noted that as a doctor, he recognizes the importance of eating fresh healthy food for preventative care.

“It is hard to imagine that some families in our neighborhoods don’t have access to, nor can they afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for their families,” said Brewster.  “This mobile market is an innovative way to bring affordable produce directly to individuals who need it most.”

In addition to these community stops, SAMM will also make stops at a small number of businesses in the area as an employee benefit.

“Increasing the availability and accessibility of healthy nutritious food for everyone in our community is part of our mission, and we are very grateful for the support of our partners, funders, area businesses and community members to make this resource a reality,” said Hall. “By sourcing vegetables grown as close to the market as possible, Seacoast Eat Local hopes to incentivize and support small-scale agriculture business in their growth.”

SAMM’S STOPS

During the initial phase for the 2016 harvest season, SAMM will make the following scheduled stops in August and September.  The final day of operation for the season is Thursday, September 29.

Tuesdays

11:00 am – 12:30 pm, Lamprey Health Care, 207 S. Main St, Newmarket, NH

Wednesdays

11:00 am – 12:30 pm Farmington Community Action Program Office, 527 Main St., Farmington

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Milton Town Beach, 852 White Mountain Highway (Rte 125)

Thursdays

Dover Senior Housing Facilities:

11:00 am – 11:30 am, Niles Court/Bois Terrace, Niles St. & Union Court

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm, Central Towers, Henry Law Avenue

1:15 pm  – 1:45 pm, St. John’s Housing, 18 Chapel Street

2:15 pm  – 2:45 pm, Waldron Towers, 3 Green Street (out back/access road)

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, St. Elizabeth Seton School, Bridge St., Rochester (in parking lot)

To learn more about the project, visit http://seacoasteatlocal.org/shop-samm/. For updates on stops and other information, follow SAMM on Instagram @SAMMvan.

Content for this story was excerpted from a press release issued by Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation, Seacoast Eat Local and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.