Farm Share: Neighbors Who Care
“My neighbors are my first responders, my friends, and my responsibility,” says Felisa as she whips back her short hair. Sitting in the community center of Pinewood Villas in South Miami, Felisa is clearly a woman of reputation and esteem in this small enclave of senior citizens.
“What are we getting today, Felisa? More of that yummy chocolate milk?” neighbors call from down the hall.
“Yes!” quips the community matriarch. “Chocolate milk and love. It kept us warm all winter!”
Farm Share food lover, Felisa Gonzalez
Felisa is just one of the thousands of senior citizens that regularly depend on Farm Share to meet their daily needs. These Floridians subsist on fixed incomes and social service agencies to get the food that they need to stay healthy. To make sure no one slips through the cracks, Farm Share follows through every two weeks with fresh produce and staple food products, like milk to fight osteoporosis and Vitamin C to help fend off the flu.
Felisa has learned from Farm Share’s example of community interdependence and resourcefulness. Through attending Farm Share events, she has created a network of neighbors who all help one another in times of need.
Farm Share recipients Ignacio and Felisa discuss how to use a pressure cooker.
“When I moved here, I did not know anyone. I was afraid but I needed help. I remember when I first attended a Farm Share event. It made me realize that there are people in my community who care. There are businesses who care about us seniors,” explains Felisa.
Neighbors in the Pinewood Villas community look forward to the regular food distributions from Farm Share, and have started a tradition of sharing recipes to create delicious meals out of the fresh produce and canned products that have become staples in their diets. By sharing the Farm Share experience, these seniors have come out of isolation and formed a neighborhood; that means safer and healthier citizens. It also means they can be more self-sufficient seniors who not depend as much on the government or younger generations to meet their needs.
Felisa carries Farm Share goods for her neighbor, Esthela, who happily waits in line.
“I was so proud the first time that I called my daughter and told her that she did not need to worry about grocery shopping for me because Farm Share was in town,” reveals Felisa with resilience. “That meant maybe she could take my grandbabies to the doctor or get them school supplies. Money is tight and Farm Share has not only helped me, but also helped my entire family stay healthy, both physically and economically.”
Felisa and her brigade of neighbors benefit from Farm Share events every month, and they are increasingly more engaged in the activities available through their local social service agencies. They are self-proclaimed community leaders, despite their personal limitations. They attribute their start, as a sort of informal network of active senior health advocates, to Farm Share. “We cannot thank you enough. I cannot thank you enough! Your generosity had allowed me to solve my own problems so I can help others. We walk together, we cook together- we have so much fun!” Felisa folds her strong, worn hands on her lap, and smiles. “And today I want everyone at Farm Share to know that when my community needs me, I will also be there.”
Look for Felisa, and learn more about her infamous Farm Share recipes, on our website: www.Farmshare.org.
Felisa packs in fresh vegetables, fruit, whole chickens, and chocolate milk into her cart.