Warren County Schools will be making free fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, available to the community every Wednesday through the end of August.
The school district’s participation in the USDA Farmers to Families Program kicked off last week as volunteers distributed 700 boxes of food last Wednesday.
Scott Richardson, director of school nutrition in Warren County, first heard about the program from a friend elsewhere in the state who also works in school nutrition. Then he received a phone call from Royal Foods, one of the school’s vendors, asking if they would like to participate.
“They tried to target rural and more impoverished areas,” he said, of the USDA program. “So what they do, is the USDA has a program where they have been bailing out farmers by buying a lot of the crops that are coming in.”
Richardson said a lot of the crops would have gone to schools or restaurants, but during the COVID-19 shut down the demand for the crops has dropped.
“This is USDA’s answer to try to help out the agriculture industry and at the same time helping those that are less fortunate,” Richardson said.
Last Wednesday when the school launched the program, the food was passed out quickly. Volunteers delivered boxes of food to 476 cars lined up in the back parking lot of the school.
“I put the word out and folks came in and helped out,” he said.
Volunteers included the school transportaion director, the nutrition staff, other staff members, and volunteers from the community.
“It’s a team effort. Everybody’s wanting to pitch in to make sure the people in these communities have food to eat, and it’s good food,” Richardson added.
“I didn’t know how well it would be received, but we went through a lot. We were out of boxes within about an hour and a half,” he said.
The food distribution will continue at the school until July 29 and Richardson is working to find another location other than the school so the program can continue through Aug. 30.
The food is free to the community, which he said is not just Warren County but also the Thomson area as well.
The distribution will be every Wednesday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., however the food may run out fast.