The astounding cornucopia in this week’s shopping bag from the Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society is, as usual, a pure delight. The bounty included packages of fresh organic black raspberries, strawberries, and kiwi. There was asparagus, a bag of succulent baby Brussels sprouts, a package of crisp celery, a jar of delicious pickles (fermented foods are great for digestion), hand sanitizer; and two well-fitting face masks. These are foods from its Food as Medicine Program. And the Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society makes all this available free of charge to anyone who wishes, every single week, with the contents varying from week to week. Best yet, it is delivered right to your doorstep. It’s discreet, efficient, and no questions asked.
Patrece Petersen, founder and director, explained that the Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society has amplified its services, given the times we’re in. The program, which he co-founded with Troy Small in 2018, originally provided fresh produce through local libraries on a monthly basis. “Prices were getting higher and higher, so I wanted to make sure people could have access to more fresh fruits and vegetables, to eat healthier and get an education for what they should eat,” Petersen explains. “Now we’re stepping it up because of COVID. We want to get people more access in order to get the vitamins and nutrients that help the body and boost our immune system. This is such a critical need in our community, plus it’s flu season so it’s even worse now. Included in the package is an update on the latest COVID information. We are just trying to get our whole community happy and healthy again.”
The program is open to everyone. Just visit mvvegansociety.com/free-delivery, or go to the main page, mvvegansociety.com, and hit the drop-down button titled “Free Delivery.” Put your name, address, and phone number in, and they will get in touch with you about the weekly delivery. They are trying to accommodate different people’s allergies or diet restrictions, so make sure to include that information. The goal is to get everyone at least 10 items.
How is the society able to make a go of it? Petersen, Small, and vice president/COO
Sharon Brown, along with a few small donations, initiated the effort. Things are very tight now, Petersen explained, and he is carrying the effort on his own, and his personal funds are running low. Because the organization is small, it has proven more difficult to get grant funding. “Now we have a few grants, and are working with Island Grown Initiative to keep this going yearly, because it’s going to be a long winter and spring,” Petersen says. (It’s easy to make a donation on the website if you’d like to support the program.)
On his wishlist is a place to put refrigerators, receive deliveries, and store the food, because right now he has to buy straight from the store and bag it up. “But I’m not complaining,” Petersen emphasizes. “I’m grateful to be able to get out and help people. That’s the key thing. But in due time, everything will work out.
“We want people to know that the Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society absolutely adores its community. We have wonderful people out there, and we love servicing them. We have some programs we are trying to put together for the homeless. We are working with referrals from Hospice and the hospital. Any organization that wants to work with us is welcome. If anybody needs fresh fruits and vegetables, contact us. If you have a job, we don’t care. It’s just about getting the food in people’s hands. If I can get you to eat 50 percent more plant food in your life, I think that will be good for me. We don’t go around taking meat out of people’s mouths. You don’t have to be a vegan to be part of Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to get food to people and help. Everybody needs help right now. And if you want to sign up, donate, and volunteer, you can help too.”