Each year millions of pounds of unwanted produce are dumped into landfills by produce brokers to create more room in their warehouses. In order to prevent the waste of that food The 3000 Club, a nonprofit organization based in Phoenix, has created a program called Market on the Move that saves unwanted produce and gives it to people in need.
Last year, The 3000 Club saved over 1 million pounds of food and distributed it to local residents in Metro Phoenix and Tucson, according to Ethel Lazario, Co-founder of the 3000 Club. The program provides a farmers’ market atmosphere where people can donate $10 for up to 60 pounds of food. The 3000 club partners with local churches and other nonprofit groups to organize the MOM Events.
Mike Clark, coordinator at the Pure Heart distribution location at 14240 N. 43rd Ave. in Glendale, said that they normally distribute produce to around 700 people at their monthly event. Volunteers from the community and the church come together to host the event and distribute the food to supporters and club members of The 3000 club. In December, Pure Heart increased to having two MOM events per month.
Co-founder Lazario of The 3000 Club, said that you do not have to meet any qualifications to receive food. She said that the program was created to serve anyone who is in need, including those who may need assistance between paychecks.
Lazario said the need for food assistance was underestimated when the program first started. In October, the event attracted a large turn out from the community. The sponsors only provided half a load of produce, as a test run for the new season, and were out of food within a few hours. She said that people line up, sometimes even in the rain to receive the produce.
Since the program was created in Oct. 2010 The 3000 Club has had over 44 events at various locations and continues to grow. If any produce is left after the MOM events it is given to recipients including local food banks.
[caption id="attachment_128" align="alignleft" width="300"] People line up to receive produce at a MOM event. (Photo provided by The 3000 Club)[/caption]The 3000 Club currently has over 600 hundred members and continues to expand its services. Members of the club are able to retrieve produce at the MOM events throughout the year without having to pay the additional $10 donation. People who support the program can register to join the club at www.the3000club.com. The only requirement to become a member is a yearly donation of $100. Lazario said that it is a large savings for customers and easily pays for itself within a few months.
How The 3000 Club came to be.
The 3000 Club was originally created when Lon Taylor, Founder of The 3000 Club, was searching for a way to increase funds to keep the Borderlands Food Bank open, after it lost a major donor. In 2008, Taylor created a program to recruit 3000 people to give $100 a year. Members of the program originally drove down to Nogales to retrieve the food from the produce hub every month. Members would distribute the food to people they knew in need. As the program continued to grow the services expanded. In October 2010 three semi-trucks began to transport truckloads of produce to Phoenix and Tucson for the MOM events. Members continue to support the services provided by helping organizing MOM events and distributing food.
Taylor has created nonprofit organizations since 1978. “(Building nonprofit organizations) is what I do,” he says. Taylor also founded the Children's Emergency Medical Fund in 2000, which provides food, medical supplies and treatment to children in the Dominican Republic and Philippines.
The 3000 Club also partners with the Southwest Medical Aid in Tucson and has worked to gather medical supplies to send over to the Philipines. In the summer of 2008, the organizations gathered $2 million of medical supplies to sort and ship to the Philipines.
There are several MOM event locations in Phoenix, including at Sukyo Mahikari, a spiritual development center, located at 15601 North 40th street in Phoenix. To learn more about how to get involved or find a distribution area nearby visit www.the3000club.org.