Within the past year, Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire has distributed 1.5 million pounds of fresh produce.
With plans to potentially double that number in the next few years, executive director Emily Moore said a focus in the upcoming year will be to distribute more food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, more quickly.
“We don’t have a shortage of food; it’s a distribution problem,” Moore said of the climate of hunger in America.
At an open house event Thursday at the food bank, 2610 Alpine Road, the effort to reach more of the hungry population with healthy foods was on display in the warehouse toured by an expected 200 visitors.
Held up on pedestals were portraits of notable people in the Chippewa Valley posing with fruit as part of the food bank’s Hunger Bites Back initiative. The goal is to get as many people as possible to share their pictures, which Moore said are symbols of a collective desire to solve hunger.
Moore said by taking their picture, which likely will be posted on social media, people are “willing to show they believe ending hunger is possible.”
Feed My People distributed food to more than 125 hunger-relief agencies in 2015, including St. Francis Food Pantry in Eau Claire where volunteers Hattie and Phil Berman of Eau Claire help distribute food to the hungry.
“A lot of people do take the fruits and vegetables,” said Hattie Berman on Thursday at the open house. She said people generally come in the door with a box and choose what foods to take back home. “We’re thankful for the food bank.”
While the Bermans have volunteered at Feed My People, Thursday was Joyce Glenna’s first time inside the warehouse. Glenna is Phil Berman’s sister and also a volunteer at St. Francis.
“I didn’t realize there was all this,” she said, taking in the size of the storage facility where the food is kept packaged and organized.
While distributing fresh produce wasn’t as popular a few years ago, the current practice of getting healthy food to as many people as possible is helping others stay healthy, said AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin senior director Cheryl Thiede, also a food bank board member.
About 150 people in western Wisconsin aided by the resource center also benefit from Feed My People, and the healthy choices help strengthen their immune systems that HIV has compromised.
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