Rome’s two Rotary clubs along with the Exchange Club, the Hope Alliance and several other local organizations hosted a food box exchange at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Around 1,700 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables were delivered to the fairgrounds off of Kingston Highway by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The boxes contained an assortment of Vidalia onions, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, lettuce and cabbage.
The produce came from farmers all over Georgia who have been struggling during the pandemic due to lack of sales to companies such as restaurants. The USDA sponsored the program and help the farmers and local families.
Volunteers arrived for setup at 2:30 p.m., but cars began lining up at 3 p.m. When Floyd County police officers showed up to begin directing traffic, they started an hour earlier than expected, at 4 p.m.
By 5:15 p.m., about two thirds of the 14-pound boxes had been loaded into people’s vehicles, according to Rome Rotary Club President Nancy Smith and Rotarian Pete McDonald.
The Rotary Club partnered with the Exchange Club for the venue and the Hope Alliance and local Boy Scout troops joined them to help load and unload the boxes.
“It’s just great to see everyone out working together,” Davies Shelter and Hope Alliance director Devon Smyth said.
Smyth reached out to Southeastern Mills to provide a forklift and driver, as well as other volunteers to load up people’s cars.
The event was set up as a drive-through to maintain social distancing and prevent a crowd. Cars drove through the back gate and followed the directions to the site. Once volunteers loaded the box into the car, the driver left through the front gate.
Traffic began to dwindle by 5:45 p.m., but there were still plenty of boxes to be handed out to families in need, no registration or prerequisites required.