If you are dealing with food insecurity, there is a new place you can find fresh food to take home on Fridays.
Flance Early Learning Center, which prior to COVID-19 was mostly focused on being a daycare, was recently designated an EnVision Center by the United State Department of Housing and Development through a partnership with Urban Strategies, Inc., a nonprofit that specializes in community revitalization. According to HUD's website, EnVision Centers are "centralized hubs that provide people with resources and support needed to excel."
The designation as an EnVision Center allowed Flance to become a center for a new way to help its community: food. On Fridays, families can now head to Flance to pick up a box of fresh produce to aid their typical grocery budget. According to Flance, 40 percent of all households with children in the city of St. Louis receive some sort of food benefits.
The boxes come from local distributor Ole Tyme Produce, and the boxes vary based on the seasons. Currently, a box will likely contain eggplant, yellow squash, blueberries, zucchini, iceberg lettuce, lemons, tomatoes, peaches, corn, strawberries and green peppers. The boxes are estimated to have 20 pounds of fresh produce.
For the most part, the only requirement for acquiring a box is that you have a family. A family of four can get one box, but a larger family can get more boxes as needed. And while that is typically the baseline requirement, those who need assistance can talk to the folks at the distribution about whether they can pick up a box. No form of ID is required.
"We didn't want to take away from people just because of the situation," says Tamra Jones, development associate at Flance. "If you say, 'I need a box,' whatever that means, we don't care."
The boxes are available on a first-come, first-served basis at Flance on Fridays starting at 11:30am. Contactless pickup, where the box is placed in the trunk of the pickup car, is available, and Flance is also located near a bus stop for those who use public transportation.
Flance Early Learning Center, 1908 O'Fallon St., Carr Square, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.881.0881, flancecenter.org