Local Farmers Help Stock Food Shelves with Fresh Produce

Updated: 06/11/2013 11:18 AM KSTP.com By: Leah McLean

Many children are happy to eat macaroni and cheese or pizza for every meal, but many parents want to make sure their kids get fresh fruits and vegetables. For parents on a tight budget, that can be an extra challenge. Some local farms are working to make sure kids are not only fed, but getting nutritious meals.

At Big River Farms in Marine on St. Croix the produce is moving from the greenhouse to the farm fields. Soon many of their veggies will go to the Emergency Foodshelf Network, and from there to kitchens all over the Twin Cities.

Executive Director Glen Hills says having healthy options is important.

Directors of the Emergency Foodshelf Network agree. They say it's easier to offer families in need non-perishable foods like cereal and boxed dinners, but they also want to provide more fruits and veggies.

"The fresh produce is the first thing to get taken off the shelf," says Lori Kratchmer of the Emergency Foodshelf Network. "So they are always looking to get quality produce from food bank partners."

Some veggies aren't always as easy for busy families. So Hill offers this advice, "it really helps to plan ahead. If you have kids, make big batches of stuff. Make big batches of stew and put lots of vegetables in it."

Big River Farms not only partners with Emergency Foodshelf Network, they train immigrant farmers so they can learn to farm on their own. Mohamed Gaabane is a refugee from Somalia. He says he works for a local hotel but back home he was a farmer. When he learned about the training program at Big River Farms he jumped on the opportunity. Now he makes money selling his produce at local farmers markets. He and other farmers at Big River are also helping bring fresh produce to Minnesota kids.

The Emergency Foodshelf Network works with 25 local farms to keep food shelves stocked with fresh produce all season.