William asked if he could have extra produce because "I don't have enough food." A senior citizen said, "You don't know how much this means to me. It really helps me stretch my social security." A family of four with three children came up to the table and asked if they could pick up produce. "I'm really hungry, we don't have food at home," said the young girl. We hear these stories from young people to seniors and everyone in-between.
The folks we introduced you to above are a few of the many who come to the Community Produce Program for the Food Bank's bi-monthly fresh produce distribution. Five days a week, clients thank us for the produce and often mention the program is their only access to fresh produce. First timers are often surprised at the quality, variety and quantity of the produce. Many tell us they have not had persimmons or apples in a long time. One client who was happy to see the persimmons, told us he had not had one since he came to this country six years ago.
Thanks to support from the National Dairy Council, the Food Bank is able to help a lot of working individuals who simply do not make enough money to feed their families. But more important than providing folks with enough food, is providing them with the right food. In partnership with health professionals and nutritionists, Feeding America developed a list of Foods to Encourage (F2E) for food banks around the country to use as a guide to build healthier communities. One of the F2E categories is produce, and by creating a program that distributes nothing but fresh produce, it ensures that clients receive the most nutrient-rich food possible.
In addition to providing fresh produce, the Community Produce Program also includes a nutrition education component. Clients tell us they like the nutrition information provided in the recipes and the engaging nutrition questions we ask. Some try the recipes and let us know how they came out, and many also learn something new about the featured produce, often being reminded to saute, bake, or eat the fruits and vegetables whole. For more information about the Community Produce Program or the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano please visit www.foodbankccs.org.
Photo Credit: Doorstep Photography 2012