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Food bank works to provide fresh, nutritious choices

Along with helping fill the refrigerators and pantries of those in need, the food bank also works to make sure that food is nutritious.

Some people may be surprised to find out that there are a lot of options for produce at the food bank.

As a food solicitor, it’s Don Moore’s goal to make sure there are plenty of options at the food bank.

“We get a lot of fruits and vegetables,” said Moore.

While the push to go healthy has really taken off in the last decade or so, at the food bank it’s always been a goal.

“I can’t say that we are pushing any harder for produce than we ever have because we’ve always made produce a priority,” said Moore.

An apple or a mango can be a great after school snack option for kids, and that’s why produce is a big part of the food that they offer for families at the food bank. In fact, they’ve had about 2.4 million pounds of produce come through the food bank so far this year.

Health experts like Cassie McClellan, a registered dietician at Hy-Vee, said these options are crucial.

“Fruits and vegetables are filled with all kinds of vitamins and other nutrients that help to prevent diseases and they also have high amounts of fiber which the typical American doesn’t get enough fiber,” said McClellan.

But getting all those nutrients comes down to how people are preparing their meals.

The food bank understands this and works to teach clients how to cook healthy.

“There is a nutrition program from the University of Missouri that meets at the food pantry periodically when school is in session and they actually prepare recipes from donated products to show clients how to cook them,” said Moore.

While health benefits are important, buying fresh can also mean forking over a lot of money.

So when it comes to donating, the food bank would rather you let them find the deals on produce and just give them a cash donation to make it happen.

“We are bringing in a load of cantaloupe and we’ll end up paying 20 cents a pound for those cantaloupes. So if you are going to the grocery store and buy a cantaloupe to donate to the food bank, you’re not always getting it as cheaply as we are,” said Moore.

While Moore always strives to find healthy options to stock the shelves, he doesn’t turn away any food.

“If we had a donor right across the street with a load of cookies or potato chips, I’d go get them, because that’s something we can do,” said Moore.

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