Free fruit and vegetable distribution begins Thursday

Pictured, volunteers and staff prepare to greet emergency food recipients at a 2014 Mobile Produce Pantry location.

Free fruits and vegetables will again be distributed to low-income residents in Clatsop County from April 30 through Oct. 1 in the style of a road side vegetable stand. The times and locations are as follows:

• Astoria: 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, in the parking lot between Second and Third streets.

• Seaside: noon to 1:3 p.m. Thursdays, Seaside Factory Outlet Center, 1111 N. Roosevelt Drive.

• Warrenton: 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays, Clatsop Community Action (CCA) Regional Food Bank parking lot, 2010 S.E. Chokeberry Ave.

“Our Food Bank Fresh program provides access and education, but most importantly an opportunity for low-income residents to make healthier food choices during visits to our partner agency distribution sites, and now directly from CCA Regional Food Bank Mobile Produce Pantry sites every week,” Marlin Martin of CCA Regional Food Bank said. These free fruits and vegetables are in addition to the food people receive during their regular visit to a food pantry.

Much of the fresh produce received at the CCA Regional Food Bank each week comes directly from the efforts of Oregon Food Bank. Truckloads of product, typically rejected from the retail markets due to product blemishes, irregular sizes, under- or overdeveloped product, or excess pounds are donated or rescued to avoid wasting food that, although not perfect, is still consumable. Fresh produce donations are also received from local industry donors through the Fresh Alliance program, and from a growing number of gardeners, farmers and backyard apple trees.

The “Food Bank Farm” production gardens are targeted to produce over 5,000 pounds of carrots and apples, grown specifically for distribution to low-income residents though the good work of partner agencies throughout Clatsop County.

Live food demonstrations will be conducted at the mobile produce pantries on given days, and thousands of packets of garden seeds will be available to low-income residents interested in growing fresh vegetables at their homes. These seeds will be available at the mobile produce pantries and at food pantries throughout Clatsop County.

Because of the growing demand for fresh food the food bank is recruiting volunteers to help with this rewarding project, specifically during shifts at mobile produce pantry locations, or preparing the product prior to the pantries.

“It takes many hands to make this program a success,” Martin said. “Volunteers are the only way for us to continue this undertaking. We need 15 to 20 dedicated individuals. Volunteers may serve as many days as they want to, but we are looking for folks who can commit to at least one morning or one afternoon shift each Thursday.” This allows them enough time to learn and train for duties.

For volunteers who like behind the scene action, culling and packaging duties are available at the food bank during the mornings, preparing the product for the mobile produce pantry. For volunteers who enjoy working outdoors in the fresh air and with the public, help is needed at the pantry to assist in serving consumers.

For information, to donate, or to volunteer, call 503-861-FOOD (3663).

‘It takes many hands to make this program a success.’

Marlin Martin

director, CCA Food Program

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