At Treasure Coast Food Bank, there’s a vision of families eating healthy meals, children with full stomachs, and seniors never having to choose whether to eat or buy medicines. That vision begins in a large food processing plant with gleaming stainless steel appliances and a chef who teaches people how to cook using fresh local produce.
Treasure Coast Food Bank, marking its 30th year in service to those struggling with hunger, is making that vision a reality through its Florida Agriculture & Nourishment Collaborative and new Healthy Harvest Catering program.
“Treasure Coast Food Bank’s goal is to end hunger on the Treasure Coast,” said Judith Cruz, president and CEO. “Reaching that goal involves nourishing people who are food-insecure with healthy food, but providing meals is not enough. Food-insecurity is a symptom of financial insecurity rooted in financial and social conditions. With these programs, we’re working to provide solutions to increase earned income and create financial stability within our community.”
Judy Cruz, left, president and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank; with Chef Daniel Leavy, head of the Food Bank’s Healthy Harvest Catering Program; Kim Johnson, Food Bank board member, and Geoffrey Sagrans, president and chairman of Localecopia, stand in front of two industrial-sized kettles at Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Produce Processing Plant. Here, they mix a bowl of seasonings that will flavor a batch of vegetable soup. (Photo: Contributed by MaryAnn Ketcham/For TCPalm)
The hub of the new programs is Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Food Processing Plant, a multi-functional center that houses both the processing equipment and a commercial teaching kitchen. When South Florida’s farms are abundant with tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn, Treasure Coast Food Bank takes in the excess that previously went unsold. It is washed, chopped, and cooked or refrigerated, extending its shelf-life and enabling many more agencies and individuals to obtain it.
Chef Daniel Leavy gets ready to add a tub of chopped celery and onions and another tub of carrots to the 200-gallon kettle to make a healthy vegetable soup. (Photo: Contributed by MaryAnn Ketcham/For TCPalm)
School children also are eating healthier because of partnerships with Treasure Coast Food Bank, which delivers chopped, portioned fruits and vegetables for school lunches under the national Farm 2 School program. Often, it goes from area farms to school cafeterias within several hours of being harvested.
“We know the result is better nutrition, which translates into better learning,” Cruz said. “That’s a benefit for every student.”
Better education and improved job skills are the goal of Treasure Coast Food Bank’s newest program at the commercial kitchen. From there, Chef Daniel Leavy will lead the Healthy Harvest Catering program designed to improve the skills of anyone in the culinary industry.
During the 14-week course, he’ll teach people all aspects of catering, including prep work, knife skills, cooking, and set-up. Healthy Harvest Catering is available to cater any community special event. Profits from that service go back to the Food Bank to help expand the program and train more students. Call 772-446-1802 for more information about the program or catering services.
Treasure Coast Food Bank board member Kim Johnson bags the vegetable soup for chilling and distribution. (Photo: Contributed by MaryAnn Ketcham/For TCPalm)
“We feed people today to take care of their immediate needs, but the long-term effect of what we’re doing will be in the programs that address gaps in social equality and improve peoples’ ability to become financially secure,” Cruz said.
Fall Harvest Dinner
Treasure Coast Food Bank will host a Fall Harvest Dinner on Nov. 10 in Vero Beach to celebrate the area’s bounty and raise money for its programs.
The Fall Harvest Dinner takes place at Schacht Groves under the lakeside pavilion. Guests will enjoy a hearty dinner featuring the flavors of the season while the Blue Cypress Bluegrass Band provides a background of sound. A silent auction rounds out the evening.
Tickets are $100 per person, with limited seating available. Sponsorship opportunities also are available.
For more information or tickets, visit www.stophunger.org/event/falldinner2018 or call 772-446-1757.
Treasure Coast Food Bank also is planning a farm-to-table brunch on March 30, 2019, in Martin County.
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