A Berry Fine Food Drive donates strawberries to local organizations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2016

Those ruby-red succulent jewels taste of sunshine and goodness. In Rowan County, that can only mean one thing: strawberry season is here.

This spring, you can donate tasty strawberries to three local agencies, thanks to A Berry Fine Food Drive, a REAL Food Drive hosted by Mobile Farm Fresh of North Carolina. Mobile Farm Fresh is a federal recognized nonprofit organization.

The food drive takes place from April 25 through May 20 — the peak of strawberry season in this area. By clicking on the link www.ABerryFineFoodDrive.com, people can donate strawberries from Patterson Farm to Rowan Helping Ministries, Meals on Wheels and Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

This food drive will use a crowd-feeding website from Amp Your Good, which allows individuals to donate fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods to local food drives. A Berry Fine Food Drive is sponsored by Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, and Mobile Farm Fresh will deliver the fruit to these three agencies during the food drive.

“A Berry Fine Food Drive is making it easier to donate locally grown fruits and vegetables to people who really need it,” says Jon Barber, founder and chairman of Mobile Farm Fresh. “Amp Your Good’s crowd-feeding platform radically changes and improves how food drives work, and Mobile Farm Fresh is the first organization in North Carolina to use the platform with a focus on locally grown produce.

“Our vision is to turn the billions of canned goods donated to food drives each year into billions of locally grown strawberries, apples, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes and other healthy food staples.”

“Novant Health is proud to be one of the first health care organizations in the country to sponsor a REAL Food Drive utilizing locally grown fruits and vegetables,” says Dari Caldwell, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. “By making it easier to access local food, Novant Health is with our communities every step of the way on their journey to health and wellness.”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Mobile Farm Fresh to be able to introduce our new way to do a food drive in North Carolina and with local farmers,” says Patrick O’Neill, CEO of Amp Your Good. “We’re looking forward to seeing lots of strawberries and other healthy foods being given to help those struggling with hunger or food insecurity.”

Most people are familiar with traditional food drives to which they donate canned goods. Yet some of this food is unusable because it’s past its sell-by date. Additionally, people who are hungry also struggle with health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure because of lack of access to healthy foods. So getting fresh, local produce to them is a goal of this type of food drive.

A Berry Fine Food Drive hopes to change the way people think about food drives.

“Many of us donate food for various causes, but it’s not usually the type of food that improves the diets of food-insecure folks,” says Doug Patterson, owner and vice president of Patterson Farm. “Strawberries are a popular fruit this time of year, and they also pack a healthy nutritional punch.”

As you might expect, the three local agencies are thrilled to have this delicious fresh fruit.

“Each week, Rowan Helping Ministries provides food pantry items to more than 200 families and provides more than 2,000 meals in Jeannie’s Kitchen,” says Kyna Grubb, executive director.

“We are grateful to be part of this REAL Food Drive. The short shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables makes it difficult to maintain the stock in these most nutritious food items. The REAL Food Drive will provide for frequent deliveries of produce, specifically fresh strawberries which are high in vitamin C and other important nutrients — not to mention they are delicious too!”

“We serve more than 50,000 meals each year to clients who struggle with providing nutritious and healthy meals for themselves,” says Rita Sims, executive director for Meals on Wheels.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for them to receive fresh strawberries with a daily meal. Thanks for helping us ensure that no senior goes hungry!”

“By donating fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can help a senior eat well, enjoy the best of the season’s bounty and reap the benefits of healthy eating,” says Terrelle D. Banner, nutrition program manager for Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

In mid-May, Mobile Farm Fresh will open its mobile farmers market for the fourth season. The farmers market will continue to take place in distressed communities known as food deserts — that is, areas in which residents who lack transportation typically do not live close to a supermarket or farmers market and therefore can’t readily access healthy foods. The popular Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program will also continue at the mobile farmers market with the support of Community Care Clinic.

Mobile Farm Fresh also delivers gleaned fresh fruits and vegetables each week through its Food Is Free program. During the first three weeks of the program, Mobile Farm Fresh rescued and delivered more than 11,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables donated from Freshouse Produce and Performance Produce that may otherwise end up as food waste. Local farmers and backyard gardeners will be added to the program as the local growing season opens.

For more information about A Berry Fine Food Drive and Mobile Farm Fresh of NC, visit their Facebook pages. You can also follow the food drive on Thunderclap, the first ever crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. Visit https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/40525-a-berry-fine-food-drive.

Amp Your Good hosts online food drives throughout the United States and Canada designed to enable people to donate fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. Companies, nonprofits, schools, civic groups, faith-based organizations and others seeking to “amp up” or amplify their food drive, including Stamp Out Hunger, the largest food drive in the world, use its crowd-feeding system. Visit www.AmpYourGood.com.