Mother of Five Gets Free Produce, Invites the Neighbors
While simultaneously completing her master’s degree and working at a nonprofit in town, Sarah is also a parent of five children. For Sarah, hunger isn’t necessarily about having an empty stomach. It’s what goes into the stomachs of her kids that counts.
“We always put something on the table,” Sarah said of her financial situation, “but we can’t always meet the nutrient guidelines we prefer.”
Sarah received a call from her husband one day this summer as he was just a couple of blocks away from home. He had been driving and he saw people lined up outside of large white tents, where volunteers were passing out fresh fruits and vegetables. The food was colorful, there was abundance and it was free.
The produce distributions Second Harvest Heartland offers the community are just one way hungry neighbors can access not just food, but fresh food.
“I didn’t know things like this even existed,” Sarah said after attending with one of her sons.
Both Sarah and her husband came from higher income brackets in the past, but the couple is currently finding accessing healthy food for themselves and their children to be challenging.
“It’s that difference between being able to fill up for the moment, and getting nutrients,” Sarah said.
Sarah and her family have visited food shelves, but much of what is most widely available is food that isn’t fresh. “A lot of what we can get has a lot of salt,” Sarah said. “It basically just fills you up.”
In response to growing need for produce and the fact that there is more than enough fresh food available, with farmers and other growers often having more produce than they can sell, Second Harvest Heartland has been working diligently on increasing the amount of fresh food distributed to food shelves, food pantries and other partner programs in their 59-county service area. Last year, the amount of fresh food Second Harvest Heartland distributed jumped to 53 percent. The produce drops, like the one in Sarah’s neighborhood, are one way this works.
“We’ve never had access to fresh produce like that,” Sarah said.
After she picked up her bag of fresh produce, she felt a duty to let her neighbors know. “We actually went around and knocked on doors to tell people,” Sarah said. “One family I know has five kids like we do, so we made sure to go to them. We did a Facebook post about it too, whatever word of mouth we could spread out. It was such a good opportunity.”
Sarah said it was also important for her son to see. “My son is young, but my son understands the volunteers gave their time. I really want the volunteers to know that this is awesome, and a really great way for them to give their time.”
To volunteer for a produce drop like the one Sarah attended, you can visit our volunteer page for those opportunities and more.