At the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen, Golden Harvest volunteers constructed 32 wooden planting beds over the past six months. Guests at the soup kitchen and agencies served by the food bank, however, must wait on fruit and vegetables until the organization finds a skilled garden volunteer to oversee the project.
“We’re ready. It’s almost upon spring and we need one person that’s a volunteer who can champion the whole cause,” said Travis McNeal, Golden Harvest’s director of special projects.
The garden was envisioned during the planning stages for a new soup kitchen building that opened on Fenwick Street in June 2010.
Produce from the garden will be used to cook meals at the Master’s Table where an average of 330 noontime meals are served each day.
Marilyn McKinnie, the manager of the Master’s Table, said volunteers are eager to help in the garden and prepare meals with vegetables.
“I’m hoping we’ll get it planted soon so that we get some lettuce, tomatoes, all that stuff so we can use it for the kitchen here,” McKinnie said.
Fresh produce remains the most difficult commodity for the food bank to acquire. Fruit and vegetables donated by grocery stores quickly rot, and high produce costs make it difficult to purchase fresh.
“For people who don’t have resources, it’s probably the one thing they never see because they can’t afford it,” McNeal said.
Agencies in 30 counties supplied by Golden Harvest request produce first. It’s the first thing to disappear from the food bank, and McNeal hopes the garden initiative will increase supplies.
After preparing soup kitchen meals, remaining produce will be distributed to guests who have homes or places to cook food. Anything left over will go toward daily distribution to agencies.