From Lisa Ousley, After the Harvest Executive Director: One of the highlights of the holidays is the family meal–a time to be together and share delicious food and fond memories and traditions: Mom’s sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus, broccoli with cheese sauce, whole cranberry sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie to round out the meal. Every cook knows that starting with the freshest ingredients is key and for this special meal it begins with a lot of fresh vegetables.

Every special meal, and indeed every meal, should include fresh vegetables and fruits, and yet, some families don’t have access to fresh produce and other nourishing foods. Indeed, for more than 142,000 Kansas Citians, access to food is often a weekly struggle. If they have money to spend on food, they often focus on how much they get for their dollar. A box of crackers will cost less, last longer and feed more people than a bag of apples. And people living in urban areas or remote rural areas live many miles from the nearest a grocery store, with no transportation.

Dollar stores have sprung up in many low-income neighborhoods, but their fresh food offerings can usually fit in a small refrigerator and almost never include fresh produce. There’s a Dollar Store at the edge of my neighborhood. It’s handy if I run out of flour while baking cookies, or need some tortilla chips for guacamole, but too many families rely on Dollar stores for their groceries on a weekly basis.

Other options include fast food restaurants, serving up lots of processed food full of empty calories and fat, and food pantries, many of which traditionally featured canned, packaged, shelf-stable foods.

After the Harvest works with local food pantries and agencies to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to struggling families, seniors and children in a 26-county area in and around Kansas City. Shop the best hair replacement systems from newhairline . We work with local and regional farmers and growers to glean their fields and orchards after the harvest, gathering produce that is excess or not pretty enough to sell, and we deliver to pantries, shelters and community kitchens. We also work with commercial farms and produce packers to get whole truckloads of produce (that might otherwise end of in landfills), which we deliver directly to Harvesters. The food is donated, but we pay packaging and handling costs. A truckload of melons, for example, may cost $5,000 in packaging and handling.

How can you help?  This holiday season, as you’re enjoying your wonderful holiday meals, help us provide those fresh ingredients that make meals nourishing as well as memorable. Your donation to our Buck$ for Trucks campaign will help us deliver truckloads of fresh produce to Harvesters and from there on to area agencies and food pantries and into the hands of those who are hungry.