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When you're taking care of 5 children, convenience and efficiency are always important. Jena Austin has a 14-year-old daughter and fosters her niece and three nephews - ages 4, 3, 2 and 1. She also cares for a disabled adult who lives in her  home. While Jena spends most of her time as a caregiver, she has her own health issues which prevent her from being able to work.

Jena was looking for a place to get medical care for her children when she discovered Central Counties Health Centers after moving here from Missouri. In addition to providing health services, Central Counties Health Centers and SIU Center for Family Medicine also serve as healthy foods distribution sites where anyone is welcome to pick up fresh produce weekly.

"We're a veggie family. Lots of kids don't like vegetables but mine love them," Jena said. "It's important. They need the nutrients."

Preparing for a trip out of the house during the week, for Jena, means finding 8 shoes, 4 jackets and buckling 4 car seats.

"It's hard getting around Springfield and I don't have a babysitter. I do everything myself," said Jena. "So being able to come to one place and do multiple things is easy. It's convenient."

Being able to pick up fresh produce and milk on the same day as a doctor's appointment makes life much easier. She typically waits until her daughter comes home from school before she can run errands. Otherwise, she is only able to leave the house when necessary.

"When you have all these kids that you're caring for and you're bringing everyone in at basically one time, it's convenient that the pharmacy is there," Jena said. "You can pick up a few things and grab produce."

What do the kids love best? "Getting apples and nanas (bananas)," Jena said, with a smile. 

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