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Why farmers, 2 groups are partnering to help Virginia seniors: ‘It’s not just the food'

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Posted at 4:18 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 16:25:22-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two non-profits that started in the thick of COVID are joining forces with an online farmers market to help food insecure seniors.

Wonnease Rhone of Chesterfield founded 5Loaves when she began making sandwiches for hungry community members during lockdown. Similarly, Jerry and Josette Coleman, were baking and delivering cookies to anyone in need of a blessing. Their non-profit, The Bless Cookies Community Network, connected with 5Loaves and now hundreds of seniors a week are being served with wholesome meals.

“I want to feed you and then I want to teach you how to take care of yourself,” said Rhone. “We don’t just give out fresh produce. We also give you good tips on the benefit of fresh produce to try to teach people that food is medicine.”

The partnership recently became super-charged, thanks to a new alliance with Seasonal Roots, a Richmond based online farmer’s market that delivers locally grown produce to members weekly.

“Normally we’re trying to deliver everything within two days of harvest,” Duane Slyder, the founder of Seasonal Roots, said.

At the end of the week, Seasonal Roots often donated produce to food banks or took it to their own neighbors to make sure it didn’t go to waste. Now they load a dolly full of organic fruits and vegetables for Rhone and Coleman to pick up on Thursday mornings. The pair drive the goods straight from Seasonal Roots distribution hub to low-income senior housing complexes and then onto direct deliveries for homebound seniors.

“That really is the issue because it is such fresh produce it has to get out there now to make a difference,” said Slyder. “This is such a better flow for making that happen.”

Seasonal Roots is unable to accept EBT cards due to regulations, so these weekly donations are another way to give back. For 5Loaves and the Bless Cookie Community Network, it’s an opportunity to service many more local families.

“They’re so grateful,” said Rhone. “Sometimes I get calls in the middle of the night. Sometimes we are the only ones they see in the course of a week and it’s not just the food. Sometimes they need someone to talk to.”

If you’re interested in supporting 5Loaves and the Bless Cookies Community Network, or maybe even receiving some of the produce, you can give them a call at 804-683-4633.

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