March 15, 2013
by Feeding America

During National Nutrition Month, we will be highlighting programs across our network that are finding unique ways to get nutritious foods to people struggling with hunger. This story comes from St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix, AZ.

Arizona is indeed the sunshine state. It has an impressively warm, sunny climate — ideal for producing bounties of citrus, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes. It's only natural then, that St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix takes advantage its surroundings. The food bank has an excellent citrus gleaning program and leads the way in providing it not only for those facing hunger in Arizona, but around the nation as well.

A couple of years ago, oranges in Arizona were infected with Sweet Orange Scab, a mark that ruins the look of the fruit but not its edibility. Regardless, the USDA quarantined all Arizona citrus and St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance was left with thousands of pounds of good fruit it was unable to ship out and share. That's when a local juicing firm stepped in to help. It volunteered to juice and package grapefruit for the food bank — allowing it to bypass quarantine and be shipped out of state. Additionally, by freezing the juice, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance could stretch their seasonal supply. Frozen juice lasts much longer.

The juicing program's first year resulted in an outstanding 28,000 gallons of grapefruit juice it could share across the country. Inspired by its success, St. Mary's and its partner firm plan to double that amount this year, and continue to expand and improve the program for years to come.

Tags: Nutrition , Arizona , St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance

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