Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones is bringing farm-fresh food to Precinct 4 residents in need in partnership with The Common Market Texas. The partnership, which kicked-off with its first distribution on Jan. 11, was unanimously approved by Commissioners Court on Dec. 19.
Funded by federal dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act, the program will bring 140 boxes of fresh, locally sourced produce for distribution at three Precinct 4 community centers biweekly. The program will run throughout 2024 to help address food insecurity.
In 2020, more than 500,000 Houstonians lived in “food deserts,” or areas with little access to fresh food. Even for those with access, fresh fruits and vegetables are often more expensive and of lower quality in low-income neighborhoods, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.
“When I was a teacher, many of my students struggled with food insecurity,” Commissioner Briones said. “I know this program would have been immensely helpful to them, and that is just one of the reasons I am grateful to have this partnership in Precinct 4. It can be incredibly difficult to access and afford fresh produce. This program will make it easier for families in need and will help encourage healthy eating.”
Three Precinct 4 community centers are participating in the program: Bayland Community Center, Burnett Bayland Community Center, and Steve Radack Community Center. These locations primarily serve the Sharpstown, Gulfton, and Bear Creek areas.
“Because we know many residents lack access to reliable transportation, we are bringing resources directly into neighborhoods via our community centers,” Commissioner Briones said. “By delivering these produce boxes to the heart of our communities, we are easing that burden for families in need and are promoting nutritional food choices.”
Apart from helping residents of the Precinct, the partnership also empowers Texas farmers, according to Marvin Itzep, the director of community programs at Precinct 4.
“This collaboration with The Common Market is a model for how government can use public funding,” Itzep said. “The Common Market’s emphasis on working with sustainable family farms right here in Texas stimulates the local economy and connects our rural and urban communities.”
Precinct 4 residents are invited to register for the produce boxes, and registration reopens for each delivery cycle. If interested, residents can call or visit participating community centers to register. Once registered and selected, residents will receive further details and reminders to pick up their boxes. Any boxes left unclaimed will be distributed by staff members at Precinct 4 community centers.