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Fresh Express Expands to Three Permanent Locations for Healthy Food Choices
Located at the intersection of East 40th Street and Waters Avenue, the site provides food on the first Friday of each month. The two other locations — the Curtis V. Cooper Family Health at 106 E. Broad St., and the Moses Jackson Center at 1410 Richards St. — distribute on third Fridays. All begin at 9:30 a.m. on the day of distribution.
The new site started as a pop-up location but was made permanent due to demand.
An initiative of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, in partnership with Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, Fresh Express launched in 2016 to serve neighborhoods with low access to fresh food. The monthly event expanded to its second and now third permanent sites with the support of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant funding awarded to Healthy Savannah and the Y through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Schmarkey says while demand helped drive the decision to make the new location permanent, it was made possible through the efforts of the volunteers who staff each site and make each day successful.
"One of our site volunteers told us about a young lady who consistently wanted lemons, specifically as a remedy during the pandemic to make hot lemon water," said Schmarkey. "So our staff and volunteers always made sure to gather some lemons for this lady and her elderly mother when stocking up before distribution day."
On the first and third Fridays of each month, the volunteers and staff members distribute an average of 750 pounds of fresh produce and bread to neighbors in need. Each family can fill two bags full of fresh foods to take home each month at no cost to them.
"We shop the Second Harvest's selection on the day of distribution so every time there is something different, but we like to lean towards having an even mix of fruits and veggies," Schmarkey said.
According to a 2020 study from Feeding America, 17.1% of Chatham County residents are considered food insecure. Additionally, 21.8% of the children in Chatham County are food insecure.
Anyone interested in volunteering at one of the Fresh Express sites can sign up by emailing Schmarkey at laura.schmarkey@
For more information on volunteering, visit https://ymcaofcoastalga.org/
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