Healthful food Distribution program makes local connections

With far too many families struggling to meet their basic needs, programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commodities distribution are critical to keeping people fed. Adding a component that links local growers’ over-abundance of produce with families in need makes such programs all the more valuable, providing a fresh, healthful and local assortment of offerings to the assistance families receive.

It ultimately comes down to supply and demand: With harvest time yielding far more tomatoes, beets, corn, zucchini and peppers than local growers can handle, the supply side of the local produce market is facing a glut.

Meanwhile, those in need of food provide a strong demand. Linking the two establishes a market equilibrium wherein all involved have their needs met.

Today, qualifying individuals – those who earn 185 percent or less of the federal poverty income threshold – can receive food distribution at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. In addition to the commodities provided by the USDA through the Durango Food Bank, local produce will be distributed as well. These vegetables and fruits are donated by regional gardeners through the Produce Bounty Project, which aims to bolster food assistance programs with a fresh infusion of garden crops. It is an effort that bridges an obvious gap between those who have more food than they can use and those who need more than they can afford. That the food in question is grown right here in Southwest Colorado and will fill hungry local stomachs is all the better. Those connections are instrumental in enriching the sense of community in the region.

To further complement the offerings of the food-distribution program, Cooking Matters representatives will be on hand to offer tips on how to prepare healthful, tasty meals from the produce and other commodities. This educational component rounds out a critical assistance program.

The agricultural yield of Southwest Colorado is robust and plentiful, and connecting that bounty with those in need – while also educating them about how best to use the food – is a meaningful way to foster community relationships, encourage local produce initiatives and support local farmers as well as individuals and families in need. The effort benefits each individual on both sides of the equation, and the community at large in far bigger ways. The USDA, Durango Food Bank, Colorado State University Extension Office, Produce Bounty Project and Cooking Matters all deserve hearty congratulations and appreciation for their work to connect those with not enough food to those with far too much.