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Truckloads of Fresh Produce Arrive at OR Food Bank

February 16, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - Volunteers at Oregon Food Bank Network (OFB) headquarters in Portland are busy on Wednesday, getting the first of three huge truckloads of fresh produce ready for needy Oregonians. It was purchased with the first grant OFB has ever received that is meant specifically to improve the nutritional value of the emergency food boxes given to tens of thousands of families.

Janeen Wadsworth, OFB chief operating officer, says serving healthier foods has become a priority, not only in Oregon but nationally, because of the obesity epidemic.

"We want to definitely be proactive in bringing a nutrition component in, for folks that oftentimes just don't have the income to go out and buy it on their own. Let's face it, produce and proteins are more expensive than a lot of the carbohydrates and higher-fat foods."

The organization's most recent survey of food box recipients opened their eyes to the need for a greater focus on nutritious foods, adds Wadsworth.

"It was startling! Twenty-seven percent of the households that reported to the survey reported at least one member with diabetes. It's staggering when you think about what the implications are of a poor diet. So, it's a very important strategy of ours."

The $50,000 grant was made by the Bank of America Foundation. Wadsworth says the money not spent on the truckloads of produce will be used to purchase healthier items in bulk, such as lower-fat chili and lower-sodium canned vegetables.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR