15 Feb Hope of the Harvest: Hunger No Longer
Written by Joe Coleman.
By reading recent Blooming Glen Farm blogs, we learned that the farmers, Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha, are busy these days scanning seed catalogs and planning crops for the next growing season. We are fortunate to be neighbors benefiting from their labor to grow wonderful, fresh, nutritious produce. In addition to managing the farm to provide crops for the CSA members, they are mindful of the need to help relieve hunger.
During the 2011 growing season, I volunteered with the Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) to support Michael Olenick, Food and Nutrition Network Manager, who coordinates 27 food distribution sites. Tricia and Tom offered excess produce to BCOC, and I connected the dots on Monday mornings by picking up the produce at the farm and delivering it to the New Britain Baptist Food Pantry. Another volunteer delivered produce to Pennridge Fish and the Quakertown Food Pantry.
In addition, the congregation at the Doylestown United Methodist Church purchased a CSA share to help those in need. I delivered the produce to the same pantry. The pantry staff extended the dots and forwarded any excess produce to the Neshaminy Senior Center.
Approximately 95% of the food donated to the New Britain Baptist Food Pantry comes from local sources. I delivered 1,831 pounds of Blooming Glen Farm produce in 2011. Hundreds of clients were thrilled to receive the fresh produce. The pantry staff provided guidance on how to cook the produce, and encouraged the clients to try new meals. To further help in that regard, a 12 year old Central Bucks student recently prepared a book containing recipes with ingredients typically available in food pantries.
A diet that complies with the Department of Agriculture’s guidelines is unaffordable for many Bucks County residents. For low-income families on a thin budget it’s almost impossible to put healthy and balanced meals on the table. Food pantries are the primary source of fresh fruit and vegetables for low income families. Nearly 97% of food pantry clients go without fresh fruit and vegetables if their food pantry has none.
The Hunger Nutrition Coalition (HNC) of Bucks County conducted a survey during 2011 to understand the current hunger problem in our communities. Based on response from 2,000 families actively receiving county services, 26% of the families skip meals due to a lack of food in the home. Visits to food pantries increased 21% since 2009 while government food resources have declined and became increasingly unreliable. Last year, the New Britain Baptist Pantry provided food to 10,035 people.
Tricia and Tom’s generosity brings us closer to the hope of the harvest. BCOC views the program at Blooming Glen Farm as a wonderful model, and is actively pursuing additional farm-pantry relationships throughout Bucks County. To extend the program, BCOC needs funding to look into purchasing the produce from farmers at reduced cost (currently it is all donated) and they need volunteers to transport the produce to food pantries. For information on donating to the BCOC, click here.
Written by Joe Coleman, a resident of New Britain Twp. since 1975, retired from Johnson and Johnson, father of two grown children and husband to his lovely wife Judy. Joe is currently a volunteer with the Bucks County Opportunity Council.
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