Rows of baskets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables sit outside a Fort Jackson on-post housing residence waiting to be picked up. Roughly 70 members of Fort Jackson Family Homes have banded together to purchase 1,500 lbs. of fresh produce from a local farmer’s market. The group also donates some of the produce to Families on post. Only two people can pick up their produce at one time. ‘To me it was about more than saving money, it was also about coming together helping other military families and their neighbors,’ said Emma Watson, director of the Garrison Housing Office. (Courtesy Photo)

By Robert Timmons

Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Everyone has different ways of handling the current pandemic. Residents of Fort Jackson Family Homes have found unique ways of taking it in stride including making art with sidewalk chalk, and banding together as a community to ensure residents have fresh produce.

Melissa Linder, housing mayor and wife of Staff Sgt. Jonathan Linder an operations sergeant with the 17th Military Police Battalion, found a way to help residents get fresh produce.

“We supply veggies and fruits and are keeping people safe and happy,” Melissa said.

Melissa along with her friend Sgt. Tawdy Smith, of the 17th MP Det., started providing the produce service four weeks ago with an initial 52 people signing up. They have expanded to 70 people per week and distribute 1,500 lbs. of fruits and vegetables.

Melissa, her husband and volunteers get the produce from the local farmer’s market.

“Something so simple but something so big,” Melissa said of the success. She said people are now sharing recipes, since they are using items that they have not cooked with before joining the co-op.

The group can be found on Facebook at Jackson Veggies and Fruit CO-OP. The orders must be placed by Wednesday at 9 p.m. Baskets are available on Fridays for pick up.

No more than two people at a time can pick up orders.

They are not making a profit and when there is food left over, baskets are donated to people on post, Melissa said.

“I was truly humbled when I saw this,” said Emma Watson, chief of the Garrison Housing Office. “To me it was about more than saving money, it was also about coming together helping other military families and their neighbors.

Then to hear they also donate baskets each week to needy Families made it even more special. “

“This is about Soldiers taking care of their community,” she added.

(Editor’s note: Leslie Ann “LA” Sully contributed to this article)