ELKHART — This week, Church Community Services’ Seed to Feed program is taking a fresh approach to distributing food. The program is hosting its first free farmer’s market for local food pantries.
On Tuesday, July 9, at CCS, boxes of plump beets, turnips, zucchini and green beans were stacked halfway to the ceiling. Pantry owners were encouraged to pick up to 200 pounds of produce to distribute to people through their services.
The produce comes from Seed to Feed’s second year of efforts to provide local pantries with fresh vegetables. Many of the vegetables are grown in Seed to Feed’s six gardens. Others are bought at produce auctions with money raised through farms that donate cash crops, specifically soy beans and sileage.
Rod Roberson, executive director at CCS, said the idea behind the farmer’s market is to “raise awareness for pantries that Seed to Feed exists.”
Roberson said that some pantries may not know that Seed to Feed provides food for pantries beyond CCS purposes. Last year the program produced 25,941 pounds of vegetables and $50,000 to help both CCS and pantries in Elkhart County.
There are an estimated 27 food pantry services in the county.
“This shows that we are separate but together,” Roberson said.
Roberson said that though the pantry provides produce non-perishables, Seed to Feed’s work guarantees that fresh, nutritious items are available.
Katie Jantzen, co-coordinator at CCS, said that four pantry clients had picked up produce in the first hour of the market’s opening.
This week will serve as a trial run to see if the market can continue again in the future, Jantzen said.
The farmer’s market final day runs from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday at 907 Oakland Ave.