Couple in car with produce filling trunk

Elena Khoury finds fit with ATH

Elena Khoury finds fit with ATH

By Elena Khoury (pictured with boyfriend Ben Johnson in their car loaded with produce!)

I started volunteering as an After the Harvest produce rescue driver at the City Market’s Farmers Market through After the Harvest in August of 2019. I had been looking for ways to get involved in my community while also benefiting the environment and felt that ATH was a great fit for what I was looking for. After the Harvest’s mission to provide fresh, nutritious foods to those in need while helping to save produce that would otherwise go to waste really resonated with me and my values.

Volunteering for ATH has been one of the highlights of my summers for the past two years. I have always loved spending time at the Farmers Market and ATH has given me a deeper connection to the farmers and growers there. I love being able to talk with them about what they are growing each season and being able to see their generosity towards those in need has been amazing. It’s also given me a knowledge of seasonal produce that I didn’t have before.

The farmers and growers are usually happy that the items they were unable to sell that week are going to those in need instead of going uneaten and eventually going bad. It saves them the effort of repackaging the produce and taking it back with them at the end of the market. It’s been great building relationships with specific growers.

We drop off to a few different agencies in the downtown area: Salvation Army, City Union Mission, Restart and Shelter KC to name a few. Each time, the agencies receiving the produce are so thankful for the generosity of the farmers. Sometimes the produce that is donated isn’t a commonly known item so it’s fun to talk with the growers about how to prepare it and then pass this information along to the cooks at the different agencies. In one instance at Restart, the cook was also a trained chef. She was so excited to see the diversity of produce that was donated and couldn’t wait to try different cooking methods with the variety of vegetables.

Not only does this weekly produce rescue benefit those in need in the KC area, but it greatly benefits the volunteers as well. Since I’ve started volunteering as a produce rescue driver, I have been overall more happy and positive in my own day-to-day life. It’s benefited both my mental and physical health. It has also filled me with gratitude for the growers, the earth and the agencies that make this possible. I’ve been able to share this experience with my boyfriend and members of my family, all of whom have loved the experience of being at the market and giving back to the community.