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Mon, Aug. 08

Local farmers supply food assistance
Manzanita reaches out to farmer’s markets for food sharing

From left, Rebecca Serratos of Prescott Farmer’s Market, Melissa Monahan of Supernatural Sprouts, and Michael Grover of Manzanita Outreach gather to load locally grown produce into the Manzanita Outreach truck at Whipstone Farm in Paulden on June 8, 2022. (Submitted photo)

From left, Rebecca Serratos of Prescott Farmer’s Market, Melissa Monahan of Supernatural Sprouts, and Michael Grover of Manzanita Outreach gather to load locally grown produce into the Manzanita Outreach truck at Whipstone Farm in Paulden on June 8, 2022. (Submitted photo)

VERDE VALLEY – Food pantries are generally not associated with high-quality food. A traditional food pantry receives the excess, unwanted, or nearly-expired food that is unsellable through main-stream channels.

However, local nonprofit Manzanita Outreach is bringing locally produced, farm-fresh produce, meat and dairy products to its food-sharing events, according to a news release.

“Food assistance is a much bigger part of our community than most people realize. Manzanita Outreach alone has served nearly 20% of the residents of the Verde Valley since the start of 2021,” Manzanita Outreach Executive Director Ben Burke stated. “If we want to increase the overall health of our community, one of the most effective ways to do that is to increase the nutritional content of the food provided through food assistance programs. That’s what we’re doing.”

Thousands of pounds of fresh, locally grown produce has been distributed through Manzanita Outreach’s Community Food Sharing program in the Verde Valley in the organization’s ongoing pilot program with Prescott Farmers Market and Pinnacle Prevention. This produce includes staples such as lettuces, spinach, carrots, beets, herbs, onions, microgreens, a variety of other greens and root vegetables and more.

The focus of the pilot program has been on seniors, with hundreds of Verde Valley seniors receiving produce as a result the collaboration. Moving forward, the organizations are expanding to serve a greater population of the community.

“This helps both farmers and our neighbors,” said Rebecca Serratos, vendor development coordinator at Prescott Farmers Market. “Farmers are paid market prices for their products, and families get the dense nutrition they need to thrive in challenging times.”

Farmers are enthusiastic about helping their neighbors. Melissa Monahan, owner of SuperNatural Sprouts, was a participant in the latest farm pick up on June 8. “I am honored to be part of this great food-sharing opportunity. Not only was it a boost for my business, but especially warmed my heart knowing these boxes were going to seniors.”

Any person growing food in the Verde Valley interested in selling their produce into the food-assistance supply chain may reach out to Ben Burke at ben@manzanitaoutreach.org for more information.

ManzanitaOutreach.org.

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