By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Farmers and gardeners of all ages are bringing fruits and vegetables to people who otherwise might not get them.
For farmers from Rushton Farms in Chester County, this is delivery day. Farmer Fred de Long explained, “Today we brought peppers, cantaloupe, [and] the first tomatoes of the season.”
It’s for West Chester Food Cupboard, which feeds 600 families living near the poverty line or under it.
“You know, I really love this,” said one client. “You don’t have food, you come get some food.”
Russell Rochester, a West Chester resident, said, “I just got some cantaloupe and some corn.”
Food pantries have always had nonperishable goods. But storing fresh fruits and vegetables requires coolers and refrigerators. The West Chester Food Cupboard is lucky to have them, but they can be expensive, so as soon as the produce is bagged up, it heads out. It’s often fresher than what’s in a grocery store.
“People are literally able to walk through and pick it up — literally hours after it’s been picked from the field,” said de Long.
Lead volunteer Donna Hartman knows fresh food promotes better health.
“You know how expensive it is in stores, and it’s very hard for them to purchase it,” explained Hartman.
For some volunteers, growing a garden is therapy. Robin Davis has a traumatic brain injury.
“It just feels good to be helping other people,” Davis said.
The West Chester Food Cupboard says that donations from gardeners are growing steadily as word gets around. Even the Girl Scouts are dropping off summer veggies “because we wanted to help out,” said Gabriella Berdinola, 10.
If you don’t have a garden, they’ll accept fresh store-bought produce as well.
“Fresh produce is something that is clearly important to everyone in our community, and everyone should have access to it, regardless of cost,” de Long said.
If you’re interested in helping, contact your local food pantry to find out if and when it accepts fresh produce.
For more information, visit these sites:
Fresh for All program through Philabundance, serving Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Salem County