city farm stand

Jaleisa King of South Marshall Street, with 4-year-old Quamir, buy produce at the new mobile farm stand outside Community Action Program headquarters, 601 S. Queen St.

Four-year-old Quamir looked forward to snacking on ruby red cherries Monday after his mother stopped by a new mobile farm stand on the south side of Lancaster city.

The stand, operated by Charles Family Produce of East Hempfield Township, offered sweet corn, peppers, onions, cucumbers, blueberries, cantaloupes and other fruits and vegetables.

It's open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday through the summer outside Community Action Program of Lancaster County headquarters, 601 S. Queen St.

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The stand serves an impoverished neighborhood considered a "food desert" where fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthful whole foods are not easily available.

Community Action Program administers the federal Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program. About 6,200 local WIC clients are eligible to receive special farm-stand-only $20 vouchers each summer to buy Pennsylvania-grown items. The vouchers can be used at the new farm stand or elsewhere.

"Having access to fresh fruits and vegetables is so important for families we serve, and I am excited that Mr. (Jason) Charles is able to make his produce available in our community on a weekly basis," said Kim Sullenberger, WIC director at Community Action Program.

Quamir's mother, Jaleisa King, 27, of South Marshall Street, used half of her $20 voucher to buy green peppers, onions and zucchini — plus the cherries Quamir looked forward to eating.

But she asked Quamir to put back a container of blueberries because the Pennsylvania-only voucher didn't apply to them.

King said the stand's location only a couple of blocks from home makes shopping for produce convenient.

The city-approved stand is open to any and all customers and accepts debit and credit cards and cash.

Michael McKenna, the anti-poverty organization's chief operations officer, said fliers promoting the stand are being posted around the neighborhood. He hopes word gets out.

"This is our pilot season" for the stand, McKenna said. "We really want to make sure that this is an initiative that will last for many years to come."