By Ashley Tomasi
Most of us know the importance of eating our fruits and vegetables, but not everyone has the same opportunities to access them. That’s where Dexter Rotary comes in. For the past six years, Dexter Rotary has been partnering with local grocery stores to purchase and deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to Faith In Action for those in need. The program is having a tremendous impact.
“Getting fresh produce every week through Dexter Rotary Club’s program means that the nearly 100 local families that access our pantry have the healthiest options right there to take home to feed their families. Together with Food Gatherers and the St. Joseph’s Giving Garden, there are fresh fruit and veggie options at all times in the pantry, and we know this makes a big impact on the quality of the diet in these homes.” – Nancy Paul, Director of Faith in Action.
Duane Newland has been the lead for the program for the past four years. He started as volunteer for the produce deliveries, but quickly fell in love with the initiative. When the time came for fellow Rotarian Gloria Leininger who founded the program to pass on the torch he quickly jumped at the opportunity to head it up.
“I am proud to be a part of such a meaningful program. It is a pleasure working with Faith In Action and Busch’s on this project. Faith In Action is always so grateful and the quality of produce we get from Busch’s is outstanding! We have developed a strong partnership that will help us carry this program far into the future.” – Duane Newland, Lead Program Organizer and Dexter Rotarian.
The program takes place every Wednesday from October 1 – May 31. Duane and four other fellow Rotarians rotate for deliveries each week. The Rotary volunteer for the week arrives at Busch’s by 10 am ready to load the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables into their vehicles for delivery to Faith In Action. Busch’s provides at least 110 pounds of fresh produce for the program each week. The produce is purchased using Dexter Rotary funding, but as Duane will tell you “Busch’s definitely makes sure we get our money’s worth if not more”. Weekly pick-up includes cases of apples, bananas, potatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, peppers, and citrus.
“We are honored to be in the position to help such an impactful program and important cause for our community.” – Chris Reedy, Produce/Floral Manager, Busch’s and Tonya Roche, Assistant Produce/Floral Manager, Busch’s.
The Dexter Rotary also plants and harvests 300-400 lbs. of potatoes which they donate annually to Faith In Action. The space to grow the potatoes is provided by a Dexter Rotarian. Two additional plots at the Dexter Community Garden provide Faith In Action with tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage. Another way Dexter Rotary is ensuring fresh produce makes its way to those who need it most.
To learn more about the initiative or any of the organizations or businesses mentioned visit: Rotary Club of Dexter:www.rotarydexter.org Faith In Action: www.faithinaction1.org Busch’s: www.buschs.com