Lon Taylor said that millions of pounds of fresh produce is thrown away each year in Nogales because suppliers for grocery stores around the country cannot sell it fast enough.
But Taylor, founder of The 3000 Club, collects that food to distribute to families and food banks in need.
Through The 3000 Club’s Market on the Move program, local communities can prevent the fresh produce from being wasted and help their neighbors at the same time, Taylor explained at one of the market events Saturday morning at the Church at Cactus in Peoria.
For a $10 monthly or $100 yearly donation, people can get up to 60 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables each month, and the idea is to share that food with family, friends or neighbors in need.
“A lot of people in need these days are your next-door neighbors because of the economic situation,” Taylor said.
During the winter produce season from November through May, about 70 percent of produce comes from Mexico, Taylor said, and often through Nogales.
The markets, which move around to various locations in the Valley and stops at the Church at Cactus on the first Saturday of every month, are growing in popularity Taylor said. Saturday’s selection included acorn squash, cantaloupe, potatoes, tomatoes and more.
Each event brings a semi-truck loaded with 36,000 pounds of produce, or enough to benefit 600 families.
“Our problem is getting rid of it,” Taylor said.
Extras from the events go to local food banks such as the Valley View Community Food Bank in Youngtown, but Taylor also wanted to tap into a group of people who might not want to go to a food bank out of pride.
“I pick up food for about five families,” said Beth Hendricks, a Peoria resident. “It’s a nice way to be able to help someone.”
Hendricks joined The 3000 Club about six months ago, she said, and gives food to families in which parents have lost their jobs, are in danger of losing their homes and to elderly friends who cannot get it themselves.
Sun Citian Mary Koithan planned to share her bounty with friends after visiting the market for the first time on Saturday.
“I think it’s very interesting and a good program,” Koithan said.
For more information about The 3000 Club and the Market on the Move program, visit www.the3000club.org.
The Church at Cactus is at 8133 W. Cactus Road in Peoria.