MISSOULA – “How do you like them apples?” A bunch of you are welcoming a donation of nearly 4,000 pounds of the tasty fruit to help feed Montana’s hungry.
Montana Food Bank Network took deliveries of the apples Thursday for distribution to food banks and pantries across the state.
“They’re wonderful apples. And they come from the Good Food Store, Charlie’s Produce and First Fruits,” said Montana Food Bank Network CEO Gayle Carlson. “So we’re really fortunate to have this donation. Not only can it be used for our pantries, it can also be used for the Backpack program, our school pantry programs, so many other resources for this kind of fresh produce is great.”
First Fruits Marketing of Washington created the “Take a Bite Out of Hungry” program, which has donated over 2 million pounds of fresh apples across the Northwest since it started in 2010. The hardy Fuji apples are not only nutritious, but are delivered in “clamshell” packaging, which helps keep them fresh for shipping and storage.
And the Good Food Store gets to participate thanks to customers.
“Our customers purchase so much of their fruit through the Good Food Store that they made this donation sort of in our name. So, it’s our fourth year working with them on this project and it’s great to be able to give something back,” said Good Food Store Produce Manager Paul Rosen.”
“So it’s kind of an apple a day keeps hunger away?”
“I suppose so.”
“You know there’s been a starvation for fresh fruits in the food bank world, so instead of the canned produce we’re trying to get fresh produce and get it out to everybody and make sure they’ve got something fun to eat,” said Joe Vargas with First Fruits Marketing.
“You know they get the daily stuff from their grocery rescue program that usually has to be used right off the bat,” Carlson said. “When we can get this stuff fresh off the ground it’s fantastic because then we’ve got a little bit of shelf life on it. It gives us time to distributed out. And we’ve been really fortunate this year in addition to this donation getting a lot of other produce coming through.”
And Carlson says the Montana Food Network and the local pantries can always use fruit and vegetable donations, whether you’re a business or individual. Just call ahead to make arrangements.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News