(WICHITA, Kan.) — They help the hungry with nearly eight million pounds of food each year. But one thing that can be hard to come by are fresh fruits and vegetables. But the Kansas Food Bank is now working to make sure everyone gets a balanced meal.
With fresh carrots and onions, Vicki Westerlund plans to make some stew. "I have health problems and fresh vegetables are wonderful," Westerlund said. But up until a few months ago, she was stuck with whatever she could get in a can. The Salvation Army and other charities seldom gave away any fresh produce.
"It's really awesome that we can give families things that they need that they don't normally get from the grocery store because of the expense being so high," said Donna Sutterfield with the Salvation Army. The produce they are providing comes from the Kansas Food Bank, which has really stepped up its effort of giving out fruits and vegetables. Last year it gave away 300,000 pounds of produce and so far this year 1.2 million pounds.
"We looked at the products we were distributing and decided there are a couple things we need to do. We need to provide a nutritious meal for the clients we're serving and one way to do that is through fresh produce," said Brian Walker President of the Kansas Food Bank.
Some of the produce is grown in Kansas but most comes from the southwest. Since fresh items have such a short shelf life, once it arrives at the Food Bank it's quickly sent out. Different charities usually designate one day a week for people to pick it up. "I look forward to it every week," said Westerlund.