You may get your grub from a food bank, but that doesn’t mean you must rely strictly on canned beans and boxes of macaroni.
The Abingdon-based Appalachian Sustainable Development’s food-access program, “Healthy Families-Family Farms” [HFFF], is now raising money to buy fresh vegetables from local farmers to help fill empty stomachs.
“There’s been a shift with local food banks to provide more fruits and vegetables,” said Sylvia Crum, director of communications and development for ASD. “And Healthy Families-Family Farms is one of the first to get fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks and food pantries.”
This marks the spring planting season for local farmers, Crum said, and that also means it’s fundraising time — through May 31 — to pile up money for this program.
“We’re in the middle of the spring challenge,” Crum said. “So we’re raising money for that program for that time of the year.”
So far, Appalachian Sustainable Development has met about half of its $18,000 fundraising goal, Crum said.
“We’re buying from local farmers so that does impact the local economy,” Crum said. “And that’s kind of cool, so that they have an additional income stream.”
Harvesting produce is expensive, Crum said. And, for some farmers who haven’t had a great season, this could really be helpful.
The money will be used to buy what are called seconds — vegetables that farmers may not be able to sell for one particular reason — though nothing will actually be wrong with them, Crum said.
A perfect example would be a bell pepper with an additional lobe.
Crum laughed and said, “You and I would eat that.”
“This food bank program is a great way to find outlets for seconds and feed hungry people and get a little more money to local farmers,” Crum said.
Healthy Families-Family Farms takes these vegetables to food banks like Feeding America Southwest Virginia and Abingdon’s Faith in Action Food Pantry.
Since 2004, Crum said, Healthy Families-Family Farms has donated more than 1.2 million pounds of seconds produce to food banks and pantries.
Vegetables obtained usually include potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and green beans.
Other vegetables include hard squash.
“It’s really easy to transport,” Crum said. “It has a longer shelf life. A hard squash can last for six months.”