Every human needs food to survive. But what kind of food? Pop Tarts? Frozen pizza? A can of pears in syrup? These foods have little nutritional value. Unfortunately, food pantry and food ministry recipients do not have many options when trying to make healthy choices. One in six Americans need food assistance but cannot get fresh produce from the local food pantry. Connie Matthiessen, from greatschools.org, summed it up the best, “When families have neither access to nutritious food nor the resources to buy it, healthy meals become a luxury they can’t afford.”
This summer I am working to bring fresh vegetables and fruit to the Hopkins Food Pantry. I have designed a program where community gardeners and farmers donate some of their produce through a weekly pick-up route I’m making on Tuesday nights. At the pantry, the vegetables are offered along with preparation ideas and nutrition information. Like the old proverb says, I’m teaching people about the importance of eating fresh vegetables, so that they might eat well for a lifetime.
Another group with limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits is urban food ministry recipients. At the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, they serve 200- 300 meals daily. Each Thursday, I package raw vegetables from my own garden, grown for this use, and head down to hand them out to the people there. I also invite youth groups to join me so that the community can get involved with this important need. I want to teach youth as well, that this is an important issue – everyone needs access to healthy food.
My ultimate goal is for farmers and gardeners to consider those without access to healthy food in the future. Also I hope to demonstrate that young people can make a difference wherever they see a need.