Pantry in Warner asking farmers for veggie, fruit donations

Last modified: 8/16/2014 11:52:01 PM
When Warner resident Nancy Ladd harvested more zucchini from her backyard garden than her family could eat, she turned to the Warner Community Action Program.

Ladd recently dropped the extra vegetables off at the program’s food pantry and during last Thursday’s pick-up hours, the fresh produce flew off the shelf.

“It went really quickly,” Program Director Erin Reed said. “We do have a big need. . . . It’s rare that we get fresh foods.”

Under a new initiative, the food pantry is turning to local farmers and gardeners in the hopes they will donate their surplus fruit, vegetables or produce.

“A lot of people have a ton of stuff they don’t know what to do with,” Reed said. “We’re saying we would love to take some of your vegetables off your hands.”

It’s not a new idea for the pantry, but it hasn’t panned out on a community-wide scale in the past, Reed said. Now the organization has a refrigerator to keep the produce fresh and is advertising around town – in the Warner newsletter and on the town website – to get the word out that it is accepting these kinds of donations.

So far, the pantry has received some sporadic donations of zucchini, cucumber and eggs. “It is starting slowly,” Reed said.

Usually, the pantry gets a lot of its donations from a collection box stationed at the Warner Market Basket, either from customers or the store itself. But, as the company remains in turmoil, the pantry has seen a drop in items.

Even when food and monetary donations are flowing, the pantry mostly stocks nonperishables.

“It is hard to buy a bunch of fresh stuff. The money has to stretch, and we have to get the basic things people would need,” Reed said. “Farming local is a nice supplement to what we have.”

Farmer donations to local food pantries are encouraged by the state Department of Agriculture, but it doesn’t track the practice. The department doesn’t have any specific regulations covering produce donated for food pantries, an official with the department said.

“I think it really adds a sense of community,” Reed said of the initiative. “People get pretty excited about fresh produce.”



(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)




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