Fresh Produce Program
“I don’t like to be a burden on anyone. I like the Fresh Produce Program because it still helps me be independent. Keep up the amazing change you are making in others’ lives.”
Annette, a long-time member of the Fresh Produce Program, receives two bags of food each week: one for herself and her daughter to share; the other to carry across the street and upstairs to her neighbor, Ms. Jones, who lost her eyesight years ago. Throughout the week, Annette will also find creative ways to cook the fresh food they received.
Annette became a caregiver when she was just 7 years old, nursing the burn wounds of her young nephew and curling up next to him every night as he fell asleep. Now 62, Annette has continued to care for countless family and community members with devotion throughout her life. She spent her career doing the same as a nurse and a nanny. “My life has been wrapped around caregiving,” she stated simply.
The Fresh Produce Program is a rare form of care for Annette, rather than the other way around. Annette was introduced to the Fresh Produce Program 2 years ago as a Duke clinic patient. At the time, she was already on a journey to learn to care for her own health, rather than only for others. She’d lost over 100 pounds and was learning to manage her chronic conditions like diabetes and fibromyalgia. But making ends meet financially was difficult due to recurring health issues each time she returned to nursing. The Fresh Produce Program is one of the ways she manages to keep food on the table without turning to nutritionally deficient foods that would only worsen her chronic conditions.
"I like the food, I really do—like the carrots and the black beans. I try not to eat things that elevate my [blood] sugar much. The collard greens and the kale—I really like that. I love the program. I appreciate it because...it’s hard out there. And you can’t really buy anything with $20 worth of food stamps...not even food that’s bad for you. The Fresh Produce Program helps. It really, really does.”