Metro nonprofit steps up to get nutritious food to those in need during pandemic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When tough times hit, nutritious food can be hard to find.

That’s where one metro nonprofit comes in, one determined to get fresh produce to people in need.

When After the Harvest’s truck delivers its goodies, grateful families are sure to be found.

Zach Callaway, After the Harvest’s gleaning network manager, delivers donated fruits and vegetables to metro food pantries. Farmers and produce brokers give him food that’s still good to eat but, for various reasons, was passed over by retailers and customers.

“We’re fielding a lot more calls asking for fresh produce,” Callaway said. “That need is increasing exponentially. I suspect it’s only going to get worse as we continue into this crisis.”

Callaway said since the coronavirus concerns kicked in, more families are asking for help, as working people join the ranks of the unemployed.

Callaway makes weekly deliveries to food pantries like Metro Lutheran Ministry. On Monday, he delivered 450 pounds of food donated by a metro food broker.

Scott Cooper, executive director at Metro Lutheran Ministry, said requests for help have quadrupled in recent weeks. Cooper and his staff include everything from tomatoes and bananas in the boxed donations they give to families. Cooper and Callaway said green, leafy vegetables, which are in season, are among the most popular items.

“We’re looking to provide them fresh produce,” Cooper said. “You can imagine the families we’re serving are already at high need. then, when coronavirus came along, and everybody got laid off or furloughed, and everyone’s without a job.”

A network of farmers help fuel Callaway’s drive to provide. John Edmonds, who co-operates Green Thumbs Up Produce outside Leavenworth, often provides Callaway with donations at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market. 

“All of our product is picked fresh. we’re not going to bring it back the next week. if we can get fresh products to people, it’s a win-win,” Edmonds said.

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