Produce donations to benefit those in need

Krystle Wagner • Aug 5, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Shopping at the local farmers markets next week can help benefit farmers and community members.

On Wednesday, Aug. 9, at the Grand Haven Farmers Market and Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Spring Lake Farm & Garden Market, shoppers can receive a green bag to fill with food to purchase and donate to The People Center and Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging.

The opportunity will be offered again Sept. 6 in Grand Haven and Sept. 7 in Spring Lake.

Ottawa Food, formerly Ottawa County Food Policy Council, coordinates the program.

“This is a great way for Ottawa County residents to provide fresh, healthy food to their neighbors in need while supporting local farmers at the same time,” said Lisa Uganski, a dietitian and health educator for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

Suggested food donations include: asparagus, beans, apples, berries, carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, corn, lettuce, cantaloupe, peppers, radishes, peas, spinach, squash, potatoes and tomatoes.

Whether it’s produce or monetary donations to purchase the food, The People Center Executive Director Karen Reenders said it’s going “fantastic” and is a great fit. More than 350 pounds have already been donated in Grand Haven and Spring Lake farmers markets this year.

Reenders said the benefit is a great opportunity for food pantry recipients, but it also gives them a chance to learn about The People Center.

Volunteering and speaking with shoppers at the Spring Lake market is an opportunity Reenders said she looks forward to each month.

Last month, Four Pointes served about 75 people through the donations, said the senior center’s wellness director, Jessie Riley. 

Once they receive the donations, they set up a distribution site at the Coopersville Farm Museum. Riley said they recognized a need in Northeast Ottawa County where residents don’t have easy access to fresh produce. In addition to distributing the food, they also educate about ways to use and store the produce.

Riley said it’s also a good opportunity to inform people about Four Pointes’ services and educate them about healthy aging.

With hundreds of pounds of food already donated, Riley said people are “incredibly generous,” and it’s exciting to see the community see the importance of healthy eating and reach out to people who might face disadvantages of receiving the fresh produce.

Shoppers can also make donations at the Holland Farmers Market on Aug. 9 and 23, and Sept. 6 and 20.

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