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Senior Produce Market Grand Opening a "Smashing Success"

The new program by the Novato Independent Elders Program will offer fresh fruit and vegetables to Novato seniors at wholesale prices.

There was a line of seniors waiting patiently outside the door while volunteers with the put the wholesale price signs on the baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables for the grand opening yesterday of the new Senior Produce Market in Novato.

The market will be held the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 10-11 a.m. at the Margaret Todd Senior Center and is open to seniors.

The new program is co-sponsored by Episcopal Senior Communities which provides services to support senior independence.

"This is our 17th market in Northern California and our first one in Marin," said Tracy Powell, vice-president of communications.

Powell said that the non-profit works to find a local vendor to purchase the fruit and vegetables at a wholesale price, in this case Marin Produce Company in San Rafael, and resells it to the seniors at the same price.

Novato Independent Elders Program is the local outreach arm of Episcopal Senior Communities and program director Carol Ann Moore said that this adds to the current food services that are provided in Novato for seniors.

Other programs include the Brown Bag Food Program, providing groceries for low income seniors and the Margaret Todd Cafe Lunch Program with hot meals provided by Good Earth.

The grand opening of the market was described as a big community effort by Moore and representatives from the city of Novato, the Marin Community Foundation, Supervisor Judy Arnold and Mayor Denise Athas were on hand to see the success.

Supervisor Arnold said her office supports the program with money from a community service fund and called the Novato Independent Elders Program, "the best in the County."  

"What Novato does for seniors is like nobody else," Arnold added.

Reusable shopping bags were provided by Episcopal Senior Communities and , a local healthcare center and nursing home.

Moore said that extra produce after the event will be donated to the which also catered the event with coffee and breakfast items.

The line to check-out was steady throughout the hour and their were lots of compliments from the customers on the quality and prices.

"I think it's fabulous. I wasn't expecting the amount or quality," said Kathy Hansen. "The prices were great. I got about 30 pounds of food for $7.35."

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