A produce market offering fresh vegetables, fruits, bakery and dairy items for Reynoldsburg families in need will begin operating on a monthly basis this month at Hannah Ashton Middle School, 1482 Jackson St.
The produce market will be open from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, and from 9 to 11 a.m. June 15 and July 20.
Hannah Ashton Principal Denise Lutz said the market will be available to all who qualify, regardless of whether they reside in the Hannah Ashton attendance area. She said those using the market do not need to provide documentation, but must sign in and state they meet eligibility requirements.
Sarah Ferguson, an intern with school social worker Cathy Grover Ely, said the nine pallets of food to be delivered by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank the morning of May 18 will be enough to feed 200 to 300 families.
"The administration and staff at Hannah Ashton Middle School are aware of student needs beyond the classroom and one of those needs is supplemental food," she said. "The market is intended to serve families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
Families and individuals will sign in but won't be required to provide identification or proof of income.
The market will be held in the back parking lot at the school. In the event of rain, it will be moved indoors to the gymnasium.
Ferguson said student volunteers will help carry groceries to vehicles.
She said some of the pallets that the food is delivered on will be used for raised gardening beds in Hannah Ashton's green space.
"One of our teachers will be working with the students to grow fresh herbs to use in her cooking class this upcoming fall," Ferguson said.
She said involving students in organizing and operating the produce market "connects our students to the community at large."
"By engaging our students with residents of Reynoldsburg, they will meet new people and experience what it's like to give back," she said. "At this time, we are in the initial phases of the market's development, but as time goes on, we hope to incorporate the market with the students' sense of civic duty."
Lutz said she looks forward to additional involvement in the market by students next school year. She wants the market to be a focus of service learning and "a catalyst to get kids involved."
People attending the market are asked to bring a bag or other container to hold produce.