Thursday, May 28, 2015

Webb City Sentinel Market Column - 5-29-15

This may be remembered as the year of the meal at the market. For the first time, the market added a second meal provider on Fridays. Lumpy's Express serves out of their food truck every Friday and the restaurant under the pavilion switches between Granny Shaffers (and their popular catfish and fried potatoes and a chicken salad sandwiches) and M & M Bistro with Mediterranean specialties. With more choices, we're seeing more than triple the number of folks eating at the market on Fridays than last year, proving that change can be a good thing.

Saturdays have seen growth too. Until the market kitchen is finished, we have continued to use the kitchen of Central United Methodist Church to prepare the breakfast. The church recently purchased two commercial convection ovens that make baking the biscuits quick and easy, so much so that we've been able to increase the number of meals available for sale. Our participating nonprofits have seen a significant increase in profits and more of our customers can enjoy a fresh and tasty breakfast. When the market kitchen is completed, we'll be able to do even more (we'll have SIX convection ovens right at the market).

Another excellent meal decision was made for Tuesdays when we asked former market caterer Trish Reed to do a weekly meal for us. She and her husband Jim prepare a delicious meal every Tuesday using as many market veggies as practical. Again, giving customers a choice has proven popular. Folks can choose Supper with Trish or an artisan pizza from Carmine's Wood Fired Pizza, which far from suffering from competition is selling more pizzas this year than last.

And we have more exciting meal news on the horizon. The market has partnered with the Methodist church to start a weekly free summer meal program for children under the age of 18. Funded by the USDA who also funds the free breakfast and lunch program at school, a free meal will be served to any child from 5 to 7 pm at the Tuesday market beginning in mid- to late-June. The church will take care of the paperwork, provide the kitchen until the market kitchen is finished and secure volunteers. Non-Methodist volunteers are welcome. If you have a heart for kids or love to cook, let us know!  The market will host the supper. The parks department is bringing over more picnic tables because we hope to have about 75 kids joining us for supper on Tuesdays. Trish Reed has agreed to be the head cook for the project so the kids can expect freshly prepared food featuring lots of local fresh produce.

Food, food, food. We have it in abundance. The farmers' tables are loaded and the number of farmers is on the increase. We don't have space to add new farmers to the market, but we do our best to find space for farmers who have sold with us before. This year we welcome back the Troyers who have been away for several years and the Agees who had, for the most part, fruit crop failures last year. Both will make the market even better. And we hear the parks department is exploring ways to add customer parking and more pavilion space to the market. Now, wouldn't that be nice?
Today, we have Lumpy’s Express and M & M Bistro serving lunch. The Loose Notes are playing.
Tomorrow, Tony Bergkoetter graces the market stage. Cooking for a Cause benefits the General Mills Relay for Life team. Breakfast and music run from 9 to 11. The market is open till noon on Saturdays.
On Tuesday Supper with Trish (which begins at 5) is meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, side salad, chocolate chip cookies and drink for $5. Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza will bake from 4 to 7, our regular Tuesday hours. Rob Pommert will play.

Good food, good music, good company – be a part of it at the market this week.