Weather Forecast


Food pantry looks at healthier options

Maj. Linda Jones stands in the Mitchell Food Pantry Monday afternoon. The food pantry recently added fresh produce to its list of needs. (Braley Dodson/Republic)

The Mitchell Food Pantry is looking to freshen up by adding fresh produce to its list of needs.

The pantry -- a nonprofit, charitable organization that distributes donated food -- is asking gardeners in Mitchell to plant extra produce to donate. Volunteers from the pantry have also planted beans, tomatoes, peppers and onions in a plot at the city-managed community garden. The plot was donated by the city when someone originally purchased the spot but never planted it, leaving an open space.

The produce grown in the plot will be donated to the pantry when it's harvested.

"It's for health's sake," Food Pantry Board President Beverly Rowley said, referring to the pantry looking for produce.

Rowley said the food pantry, which rents space in the Salvation Army building, is now able to stock produce after County Fair donated a walk-in cooler last summer. Glen Lowrie, owner of F & L Crop Service, paid for a new compressor for the cooler.

"Before, we couldn't keep milk or eggs," Rowley said.

The pantry places donated food in bags that can be picked up every two weeks, and donated cash is used to purchase perishable items such as milk, eggs and meat. The list of needs is given to participating churches, each of which dedicate a month to donating food to the pantry, and produce will appear for the first time on the July needs list.

Even though the cooler will allow for produce to stay in stock longer, Rowley doesn't expect it will need to be utilized often.

"With garden produce, it probably goes out the same day it comes in," Rowley said.

There are no plans to expand fresher food options into the winter months.

"A lot of people have extra produce," Rowley said. "If my apple trees do well, then I have trillions of apples."

Rowley said if the new, fresh produce doesn't have a positive response, then the food pantry will continue with the old method of donating non-perishables, but she would be pleased with success in fresher options.

The food pantry was founded by the Mitchell Ministerial Association in 1983 and serves about 670 people a month. In May, the pantry served 673 people, 203 families and gave out 1,498 bags of food.

Produce can be brought in to the Mitchell Food Pantry on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and is distributed on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m.