KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Pitching for Produce Wiffleball Tournament Friday helped stock fresh produce the rest of the year in neighborhoods where its never been available.

There’s no grocery store in Jonathan Daily’s neighborhood near Belmont Avenue and Truman Road, or anywhere close. He tries to limit grocery runs to Independence or North Kansas City to once a month if he can.

“Put $20 in and you aren’t able to go far to get food. You got to toss up between gas and food,” Daily said.

“The average time primarily in food deserts East of Troost to get to a grocery store is over 45 minutes,” Kanbe Markets Marketing Manager Ali Curbow said.

There is a small corner convenience store and taqueria. That’s where Kanbe’s Markets comes in.

“Some families don’t have the opportunity to go the store all the time or affordable food and everybody should,” said Andy Heitmann, VP at Turner Construction and a participant in the tournament.

Kanbe’s has 40 coolers at markets, liquor stores and bodegas around town.

“We install the cooler at no cost to store owner and we stock it five days a week with fresh fruits and vegetables. So its really all about giving access to those fresh produce items,” Curbow said.

The coolers contain everything from apples and bananas to cabbage, carrots, corn and cucumbers to lemons, lettuce and limes.

Friday’s wiffleball tournament complete with a produce derby raised more than $20,000 to open four new coolers in traditionally underserved 64108 and 64127 zip codes.

A new cooler will be installed at those corner markets every week in July bringing the total to 44 around town. All have been placed in just the past 4 years, since the non-profit began operations.

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