This spring, the New Hampshire Food Bank received a grant totaling $25,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to provide local produce to food pantries in the Monadnock and Upper Valley regions of New Hampshire. The NH Food Bank partnered with Food Connects, based out of Brattleboro, VT, on the procurement and distribution of this farm fresh product. Food Connects delivers local food to schools, hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores from a large network of regional farmers and producers.
With Food Connects’ established delivery infrastructure in the Food Bank’s target areas, the partnership between the two organizations provided multiple deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables to 9 New Hampshire food pantries, including LISTEN Food Pantry, the Jaffrey Food Pantry, the Community Kitchen of Keene, and the Upper Valley Senior Center, serving more than 8,829 people. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, 1 in 9 individuals and 12 percent of children in NH struggle with hunger. Both Food Connects and the NH Food Bank prioritize increasing access to local food throughout their communities.
“Fresh produce is so critical to people’s health, yet often one of the hardest things for us to get our hands on,” says Angela Zhang, Program Services Director for LISTEN Community Services located in Lebanon, NH. “We can’t stress enough how thrilled people were to get such a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables—the strawberries and blueberries were especially a hit! It’s a welcome change from canned and dried goods. They were all snapped up in just two days!”
In the first round of deliveries, the grant funds allowed the food pantries to purchase over 30 locally produced products including 120 pounds of cucumbers, 240 pounds of ground beef, and 100 bunches of beets along with peppers, tomatoes, squash, yogurt, and cheese. This food not only feeds local community members but supports local farmers and producers—in fact, over 20 different producers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts benefited from the partnership.
“We are really excited to partner with the NH Food Bank on this project!” says McKenna Hayes, Food Connects’ Operations Manager. “We know this is a traditionally under-served demographic and we sometimes have difficulty reaching them through our regular delivery locations. Everyone should have access to fresh produce, and we’re really lucky that we get to provide the aggregation and distribution services to help make that a reality this season. We look forward to expanding this program and continuing to partner with the NH Food Bank.”
“The New Hampshire Food Bank is proud to partner with Food Connects in providing these funds to get more fresh, nutritious food to those in need in western New Hampshire,” said Eileen Liponis, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Food Bank. “Eating nutritious food, including more fresh fruits and vegetables, is the first step toward improving on one’s health.”