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Meals on Wheels enjoying fresh, local produce

Meals on Wheels Rowan

Thanks to Bread Riot, local farmers and Huffman’s Peaches, Meals on Wheels Rowan participants have received small bags of locally grown fruit and produce each week this summer.

Carol Corken, coordinator for Bread Riot, contacted Meals on Wheels to discuss a collaboration during the summer harvest season. The mission of Bread Riot is to cultivate a thriving local economy by promoting locally produced food, using sustainable farming practices and focusing on whole-life issues, education and environmental concerns.

Corken reached out to Sandy Combs, program director for Meals on Wheels Rowan, who helped decide what vegetables would work best for participants.

Submitted photo Bags of fresh produce accompanied daily meals from Meals on Wheels this summer.

“We have to be mindful of the types of vegetables that we send because foods that require a lot of preparation or cooking would not work for our folks,” said Combs.

Corken and Combs determined the best vegetables are tomatoes and cucumbers. Occasionally, Bread Riot provides potatoes or other vegetables that are delivered with easy-to-cook recipes.

Kevin Huffman of Huffman’s Peaches and Produce donated fresh local peaches. Huffman has more than 1,000 peach trees and 18 varieties.

“Kevin has called us at least three times this year to donate peaches,” said Cindy Fink, Meals on Wheels executive director. “After I get Kevin’s call, we contact our staff member, Suzanne Weber, who lives in East Rowan and ask her to detour by Huffman’s on her way to work. When Suzanne arrives with the peaches, it is ‘all hands on deck’ to package two to three peaches in each bag and seal them with the label recognizing Huffman’s Peaches for the donation.”

Corken delivers locally grown produce to the Meals on Wheels office in Spencer where volunteers and staff package and label the bags that are then delivered across the county.

One participant called and said, “I can’t wait to have my first ‘homegrown’ tomato sandwich of the season.” Volunteers reported many of the participants were thrilled with the fresh, local peaches.

“Many of our homebound seniors and disabled citizens do not have the mobility or energy to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. Others do not have caregivers to assist them during the day,” Combs said. “Most of our participants do not drive or have the opportunity to get to local farmers markets or to a produce stand. Bread Riot purchases produce from local farms.”

“Our mission is to provide nutritious meals for homebound seniors, but anytime we can collaborate with other agencies or businesses to enhance our service and make our participants feel special, we do our best to make it happen,” said Tom Robinson, Meals on Wheels board president.

“We are very grateful for organizations like Bread Riot and the local farms they work with including Miller Farm, Correll Farm and Downing Farm. We also thank Huffman’s Produce and Peaches, and others who care about the homebound seniors in Rowan County.”

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