Food bank plans to distribute 1M pounds of produce

2012-06-26T19:52:00Z 2012-06-28T00:18:11Z Food bank plans to distribute 1M pounds of produceBy Chas Reilly, (219) 662-5324

HIGHLAND | Before Food Bank of Northwest Indiana officials arrived Tuesday at Wicker Memorial Park to set up for a free produce distribution, a line of local residents already started to form to receive the food.

The line grew to at least 100 people before the giveaway began about an hour later, said Megan Sikes, the food bank's communications and advocacy manager.

Angie Williams, the food bank's executive director, said fresh produce is important for a healthy diet, but it can be hard for residents in need to obtain.

Consequently, the food bank's goal is to distribute 1 million pounds of produce this year.

Williams said food bank staff gave her strange looks when she announced the goal earlier this year because produce is expensive and it also can be hard for the food bank to acquire.

The organization has distributed 485,000 pounds of produce this year, Sikes said.

"Halfway through the year, we're halfway through the goal," she said.

The amount distributed doesn't include watermelon, which was among the produce provided Tuesday. Corn, carrots, potatoes and onions also were distributed to residents.

The food bank received help toward its produce goal after it received a $20,000 donation on Tuesday from DaVita, which provides kidney care services.

"We are very excited about today," Williams said, "Super, super excited."

Mark Bratland, a divisional vice president at DaVita, said the company is proud to work with the food bank and "help you serve more" produce.

Besides the donation, DaVita employees volunteered during the produce giveaway.

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