Covia , Programs
Market Day Locations Reopen Across the Bay Area
Market Day is starting to reopen in locations around the Bay Area. Covia’s first Community Service program, Market Day, tackles food insecurity by bringing fresh produce to older adults at senior centers, senior communities, and churches. Market Day is set up as pop-up farmers market that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to communities at affordable prices and all unsold produce is donated to local nonprofits.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Market Day transitioned from their normal operations to delivering produce directly to older people. In April 2020 alone, Market Day delivered bags of produce to 1,593 older adults living in twelve locations that normally host markets. This service not only provided fresh food but also helped boost spirits with hand delivery to vulnerable populations that were sheltering in place.
As California begins the process of reopening, Market Day locations are starting to open up as well. “We currently have six out of 24 Market Days open,” notes Teresa Abney, Market Day Program Director. More re-openings are tentatively scheduled for the fall.
At the beginning of the reopening process, the Market Day team met virtually with all coordinators to assess the needs of residents and the capacity of each market to open. Based on these meetings, the Market Day team determined which markets to open first and necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.
“Some of the precautions we have taken to protect shoppers include holding markets outdoors where possible, selling produce directly from the boxes to minimize touch, and holding markets open an extra hour to help stager shoppers,” says Teresa. Staff and volunteers also complete a COVID-19 screening before the start of each Market Day and masks are required for all staff, volunteers, and shoppers. Baskets are sterilized after each use and tables are spaced to allow for social distancing.
Response to the re-openings have been overwhelmingly positive. “The communities that have opened up Market Day again have all been very excited and happy to have Market Day back,” says Teresa. “It brings so much happiness to so many individuals. Even if it is with a mask on and 6 feet apart, it is just so nice to see and hear how happy everyone is to be shopping at Market Day again.”
Coordinators have also enjoyed having the markets back. “Many coordinators have said it’s just so nice to have a somewhat normal event back and see so many familiar faces again,” notes Teresa. “Market Days are more than fresh produce. They also create community and provide an opportunity to create a sense of purpose through volunteerism.”
The Market Day team is looking forward to opening more markets soon, though Teresa notes that “the plan for the future right now is day by day. We have to see where guidelines take us and see where everyone is as far as re-opening of senior centers.” Despite the slow process, the team is hopeful. “We are looking forward to bringing this amazing program back to many communities in the future so we can help older adults receive affordable produce safely,” says Teresa.
Markets are currently open and running regularly at Cottonwood Place in Fremont, Oak Center Towers in Oakland, Stoneman Village in Pittsburg, Presidio Gate Apartments in San Francisco, Burbank Heights & Orchards in Sebastopol, and Cloverdale Senior Center.