Move over, giant slurpies. Before long, the iconic image you connect with the read and orange 7 encased in green may really be green. Or rather, greens. At least, here in Longmont.
Longmont’s 7-Eleven located on Lashley has partnered with Platteville’s Miller Farms to host a weekly produce market beginning this summer. Kicking off June 20th, the events will be held throughout the summer and as long as produce lasts, Wednesdays from 3-6. Miller Farms will be offering their generous, popular $10 bag deal: fill your bag with whatever you can for the set price. What’s more, Double Up Food Bucks will be accepted, so when paying with SNAP benefits, all that great goodness comes at just $5 per bag! “I think this is a great pilot program to see how the neighborhood will respond to fresh groceries,” says Lashley 7-Eleven owner Oliver Samra. “If this pilot program is successful then in the future I would love to explore the potential of making local produce part of the 7-Eleven merchandise.”
While 7-Eleven may not be your typical go-to source of fresh produce, healthy options have been a priority for some time. Last fall, we shared how previous funding from The Cancer Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Grants Program (CCPD) allowed LiveWell Longmont to support and promote healthy eating initiatives throughout Longmont. As part of this work, LiveWell Longmont began partnering with 7-Eleven on 9th and Lashley to help showcase their healthy options already in place: fresh fruit assortments and salads made daily, for instance. There are further snack packs with hummus, mini pitas, veggies, grapes and cheese cubes, and fresh sandwiches light on the saucy condiments.
LiveWell was thrilled to offer marketing support to highlight healthy choices. “The junk food companies use billions of dollars to try to put their products front and center,” says our Longmont Community Engagement Strategist Erika Wey. “We wanted to be able to offer the same sort of support to some of the delicious foods that are good for you.” When it comes to the healthy options at 7-Eleven, Samra worked with Wey to ensure waste was limited. Twice weekly, Longmont Food Rescue collects unsold healthy items, redirecting them promptly to good use.
Everywhere in our #HealthyLongmont community, healthy progress–and interest–is budding. Over the course of several months, LiveWell Longmont conducted a series of food assessments underscoring the health conscious interests of our community. And though we as an organization will be closing our doors this summer, we are working tirelessly to the last second to put action plans into place addressing what we learned. We are partnering with numerous community organizations to provide additional resources at the weekly markets/mercados, with plans such as cooking and preservation demos, nutrition education and more in the works.
The term “food desert” is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. But while the term is becoming more common, unless we experience the reality of it, we aren’t always fully aware of where they are. They exist too often, here in our own community. And there are things we can do. Small steps with great gains. Grassroots efforts like 7-Eleven’s summer produce stand. Keep the momentum going, Longmont. Health happens with you.