For years, the Capital Area Food Bank’s Healthy Eating team has worked tirelessly to promote fresh produce across its network of partner agencies. One of the most successful and creative ways that this has been done in the past has been through the food bank’s From the Ground Up Fresh Produce Grant, a program that hooks up a select group of partner agencies with local and organically grown produce from Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD. The program has been wildly successful, gaining momentum and supporters. Today, the Fresh Produce Grant is run by a member of the Brethren Volunteer Service and has given many partner agencies the chance to have their clients try new, healthy vegetables. There was just one challenge to the program’s operation: how to spread the love to Virginia!
Our partner agencies in Northern Virginia found that a trip to central Prince George’s county was just too far to travel, even for free food. That’s why the Healthy Eating Department chose to bring on another farm that the food bank has worked with in the past: Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville, VA. Waterpenny Farm provides the food bank with enough food for one Northern Virginia-based agency to pick up a donation of fresh produce once a week. The produce goes directly to feeding that agency’s clientele, complete with simple, healthy recipes for some of the more unfamiliar items.
This past summer, the grant was awarded to Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church in Alexandria, VA. The church’s food pantry coordinator Sarah Heckman said, “When clients see that we have fresh produce, you can see the excitement in their eyes!” Programs such as the Fresh Produce Grant help to underscore the importance of the food bank’s recently reaffirmed commitment to distributing nutritious fruits and vegetables.
To help nourish our neighbors in need through supporting programs such as the Fresh Produce Grant, please visit the Share the Harvest section on the food bank’s website.