Feeding Hope: Connie, Becky, and Harley's Stories

On a sunny September day, Connie, Becky, and Harley stood together in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in St. Maries, Idaho.  They were at the end of a long line of people waiting for the Second Harvest Mobile Market to begin.  All shared an excitement about the fresh fruits, vegetables, and other food items that they were about to take home.

The largest town in rural Benewah County, St. Maries is still considered small by many standards.  Home to less than 2,500 people, St. Maries only has two main grocery stores, and their pricey produce makes fresh, healthy food out of reach for many residents.  Some even drive more than an hour to Coeur d’Alene once a month to stock up on lower-priced groceries.  Costly produce—a reality for many rural areas—makes the Mobile Market an important resource for St. Maries.

Connie, a senior on fixed-income, attends every Second Harvest Mobile Market held in St. Maries.  Becky, Connie’s adopted daughter, heard about the event from her mom and now frequently attends with her.  Both agreed that anything fresh in their grocery stores is too expensive for their budgets.  Most of Connie’s monthly income goes toward her husband’s multiple medications, leaving very little money for food—especially produce.  The Mobile Market helps their family incorporate fresh food into their meals.  “It provides a little extra food when times are tight, especially for people who live with one check a month,” said Becky.

Becky selecting salad dressing from the Mobile Market.

Harley stood just in front of the mother and daughter with a laundry basket in hand—a sturdy carrier for the food she was about to bring home to her husband and two-year-old step-daughter.  September’s event was the third Mobile Market she’s attended after hearing about the event from a friend.  “I’m a bartender, so I hear a lot of things,” she commented.  Harley is one of the few bartenders in town who makes minimum wage, but her income still isn’t high enough to cover all the basics—including food.  “We have a toddler, so things get tight.”

Because produce isn’t affordable to many in town, Connie, Becky, and Harley all particularly enjoy the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables the Mobile Market provides.  Waiting to see what the truck brought this time, Connie and Becky reminisced about the delicious asparagus offered at a recent Mobile Market.  “You go to a lot of these places and you always get potatoes and onions.  Here you get something else besides potatoes and onions.  It’s nice to get different stuff,” said Connie.  The fruits and vegetables make it a little easier for Harley and her family to eat healthy, whole foods.  “It gives us real, full meals instead of cheap stuff to cook.  And it’s not expired food!”

This Mobile Market provided these three women and 250 other families with apples, pears, onions, soup, potatoes, crackers, salad dressing, bread, and other items.