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The Haywood County Produce Pod Receives Local Boost

MANNA FoodBank of a fresh produce distribution center.

The Haywood County Produce Pod, the first fresh produce distribution method of its kind in the state, is getting a fresh injection of partners to increase the distribution of fresh produce to residents of Haywood County.

Thanks to a new partnership with the Haywood Gleaners, the Haywood County Produce Pod, hosted and operated by Haywood Christian Ministry, will serve 16 additional communities in need of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

MANNA FoodBank, which serves 16 counties across Western North Carolina, helped facilitate the local connection through the MANNA Partner Agency Network to further utilize the pod for Haywood County residents’ food needs. In 2016/2017, MANNA distributed over 1.1 million pounds of food in Haywood County alone, including over 350,000 lbs. of produce.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most needed foods for the communities we serve across Western North Carolina,” says Jen Waite, food sourcing director for MANNA FoodBank. “The importance of this fresh food in the communities we serve can’t be understated, particularly for vulnerable individuals and families who have health issues that can be addressed with simply having access to enough fresh, nutritious food.”

“Haywood County is facing a healthy food crisis and the County Health Scorecard shows that our families are eating 9% less fruits and 7% less vegetables than they were just two years ago,” says Anthony Price, Executive Director for Haywood Christian Ministry. “With an above average cost of groceries and a median income that is well below average, we have 14.3% of our population and 25.3% of our children living in Food Insecure Households. This new partnership uses the assets of each agency to solve a problem and bring a positive change to our community.”

“We work with all of our partners to make the kinds of connections that will have a big impact in the daily lives of the Western North Carolina families who depend on our network for their most basic need of having enough to eat,” says Amy Haynes, Agency Relations Manager for MANNA.

“All our clients tell us how appreciative they are for the fresh produce,” states Kathie Johnson, Distribution Coordinator for the Haywood Gleaners. “They are delighted with the food deliveries from the MANNA pod and Haywood Gleaners.”

“We send out text and e-mail alerts to our residents (at Mountain View Housing in Canton),” say Kim Harbin and Wendy Duckett, “and within a few hours the produce is gone. The residents are so appreciative, as they all live on very limited incomes.”

“The cooks use the fresh food to supplement residents’ diets,” says Dennis Seely. “With our budget, our ability to purchase lots of fresh produce is limited. What we don’t use quickly is preserved by canning or freezing.”

At Canton Senior Center, Theresa Woodruff says that many of their clients have lost spouses and live on very limited income. “They are so delighted to take home good fresh vegetables and fruit.”

The Haywood Gleaners will be serving the following communities, organizations, and programs with fresh produce from the Produce Pod:

ARC
Broyhill Baptist Children’s Home
Canton Senior Center
Cavalier Arms
Chestnut Park Rest Home #1
Chestnut Park Rest Home #2
Hickory Hollow
Mountain View
LifeSpan Day Center
LifeWorks
McCracken’s Rest Home
REACH
Richland Community Center
Timber Ridge Apartments
Waynesville Senior Center
Waynesville Towers

(Image: First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper joins Morgan Stanley representative David Wilhelm to dedicate the first produce pod devoted to fresh produce distribution in the state.)