Food Bank Providing More Fresh Produce
Posted: January 21, 2013
Fresh sweet potatoes and asparagus at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Verona wait to be given to needy families and residents. In 2007, fresh produce made up 4 percent of the food given to clients. By the end of 2012, that number had jumped to 15 percent. (Photos by Nikki Fox)
Stone Fisher, a warehouse assistant at the Valley agency, loads a pallet of food earlier this month for a delivery.
In 2007, fresh produce made up just 4 percent of the food that the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank handed out to needy families and residents. By the end of 2012, that number jumped to 15 percent.
“It’s really wonderful that we can provide a healthy option,” said Ruth Jones, communications director at the food bank, based in Verona. “At the end of the day, we want them to eat well, and there’s more nutritional value in the produce than the canned and boxed goods.”
On a normal day, food pantries in Harrisonburg and throughout the food bank’s service area can get a variety of fresh produce from the agency, including potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. Depending on the season, watermelon and cantaloupe are also available.
In Harrisonburg, the food pantry at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in downtown Harrisonburg and Hope Distributed, a food pantry operated by the First Church of the Nazarene on Boyers Road, receive fresh produce.
Jones said part of the reason the food bank is relying more on fresh foods is because the organization has seen a steady decline in nonperishable donations from major food manufacturers.
Traditionally, she said, food manufacturers would donate damaged goods to the food bank, such as dented cans. But companies have become more efficient and have reduced the amount of damaged goods produced. She also said many of the businesses are selling the damaged products to dollar and discount stores.
While most of the fresh produce is donated to the food bank, the agency has to pay for gleaning, packaging and shipping of the produce to the food bank.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org