Needy fare better with fresh food

Clark County Food Bank needs volunteers to take advantage of farm programs

Farmer John's Weeding

submitted photo

Clark County Food Bank is working hard to get fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables into the hands of the most needy citizens in our region. While most foods come from supermarkets and distribution centers, that food is canned, dried or otherwise processed and does not provide the same nutrients as fresh and frozen produce. The food bank’s farm and garden projects are expanding by the year, and are in deep need of volunteers on the ground (literally) to help plant, weed and harvest. To keep the food organically grown, a huge amount of people-power is needed.

John and Helen Pachl are entering their fifth season of offering food grown on their personal acreage to the food bank. A retired contractor, John Pachl is not a farmer by trade, but saw the need in the county and started growing what he could, using his own money and resources. This year, Fields of Plenty, as the food bank had dubbed the project, produced 36,000 pounds of produce for needy folks in the county. Seven acres of corn, zucchini, beans, peas, apples, peppers, grapes and plums were grown. Two to three tons of tomatoes alone were offered. Pachl has another 15 acres that could be farmed for the food bank, if only enough volunteers were available to take on the planting, harvesting and weeding necessary to take advantage of the offering.

Pachl also said he “might start asking for a little bit of help,” as the funds to make this food available are topping $10,000 a year for necessities such as fertilizer, lime, sprinkler heads, diesel fuel, and of course plants and seeds. Pachl bought a greenhouse, but got hundreds of starts donated from Chapman’s Greenhouse, a family-owned nursery in Orchards.

In fiscal year 2012, Clark County Food Bank distributed more than 3.9 million pounds of food products, resulting in over 121,055 emergency food boxes for distribution by partner agencies to their clients. Approximately 39 percent of those helped were children. Fresh food offerings, said Executive Director Alan Hamilton, helps the food bank accomplish its mission of “alleviating hunger and its root causes.” Kitchen volunteers are helping families learn how to cook simple recipes with inexpensive, easy-to-grow seasonal foods and enabling them to think differently about feeding their families.

Another fresh food initiative, the popular 78th Street Carrot Patch is heading into its fourth season. To help the Clark County Food Bank take full advantage of these offerings, email, call the number above or visit the website.

Clark County Food Bank

6502 N.E. 47th Ave., Vancouver


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