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Oregon Groups Provide Fresh Produce for Families This Summer

Programs in Oregon are providing fresh produce to families during the summer months. (Oregon Food Bank)
Programs in Oregon are providing fresh produce to families during the summer months. (Oregon Food Bank)
July 26, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon families' meals are getting some added zest with fresh produce this summer. Oregon Food Bank's Harvest Share is giving out locally grown produce in Portland parks so that families can take it home and make healthy meals. Summer meal programs are particularly important for families that rely on free and reduced lunch programs during the school year.

Oregon Food Bank's child hunger program coordinator, Ally Meyer said families that rely on school meal programs can struggle to get healthy meals during the summer.

"That's how we pick who we're going to serve with this program is targeting those regions of the city and of the county that we know that there's families that have been relying on school meals throughout the year," she said.

Meyer said Harvest Share works alongside the free summer lunch program, which provides meals in cities across the country through federal funds. Statewide, more than half of students are eligible for free and reduced-lunch programs during the school year, according to Children First for Oregon.

Meyer adds that meals in the park provide more than just food.

"So it's not just, 'Come and get a meal' or 'Parents, come and get some groceries,' but there's activities going on, chance for parents to socialize, chance for kids to run around and play," she added.

Casey Wheeler is executive director of Columbia Pacific Food Bank in St. Helens. His food bank provides meals and fresh produce throughout the year to Columbia County. Wheeler said summer is especially fruitful because it's the time of year when local gardeners provide the food bank with a wide variety of local produce.

"Just as an example, today we had people bring in four different types of squash, three different types of apples, pears, carrots, peas, beans, some lettuce and some kale," he said.

Oregonians can find a summer meal program in their area by going to the Get Help section of Oregon-Food-Bank.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR