We had an amazing gathering of organizations that provide food throughout Cochise and eastern Santa Cruz Counties yesterday. Food pantries, food banks, backpack programs, senior lunch programs, emergency food cupboards, produce growers and gardens, funders, and community volunteers turned out for an appreciation luncheon. It was a small effort on our part to try to say THANK YOU in a big way!
Did you know most of our food banks and pantries, senior meal programs and backpack programs are run solely by volunteers? These amazing people dedicate their time and their hearts to make sure their communities are fed. The food lines are getting longer. Access to healthy food is more difficult. The challenges are real.
We had several great presentations yesterday by organizations who provide food in their communities as an alternative to or an adjunct to what the pantries have to offer.
Jason Zibart from Benson Hospital spoke about Food As Medicine. Benson Hospital collaborates with a local grower and brings a farmer’s market to the hospital campus.
Captain Heather Baze from The Salvation Army spoke about the Kid’s Culinary Program. Youth are provided all the necessities to prepare fresh, home-cooked meals through an interactive Zoom cooking class. Youth learn skills that have life-long value and the family enjoys a meal together.
Ann Aust from the Huachuca City Community Garden shared how the garden has provided tons of fresh vegetables to the Huachuca City community over the past few years. The vegetables are grown locally in the garden and distributed throughout the community at no cost. They can help you get a garden started too!
Cynthia Aspengren spoke about the nutrition education offered through the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension EFNEP Programs. Through education, community members can learn how to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables. EFNEP offers healthy recipes and teaches how to can and preserve foods. Cynthia also teaches food safety classes.
Cynthia also spoke as a representative of BASA about gleaning. Gleaning is the collecting of leftover fruits and vegetables left in the garden or on the farm after harvest. These foods then get distributed to food banks and pantries and don’t go to waste. If you have lots of fruit left on your fruit trees or an over- abundance in your garden next year, call BASA! They can put it to good use for you.
Talon Duncan from Echoing Hope Ranch (EHR) shared information about a Farm to School Program they are working on with the Palominas School District. EHR grows fresh vegetables and provides them to the school along with education to the youth about growing and eating healthy food.