Season Of Generosity
Spring appears to be here to stay across south-central Indiana, and farmers and gardeners are looking ahead to their first young crops. Organizations dedicated to fighting hunger are also eagerly awaiting the harvest.
Executive Director of the Community Kitchen of Monroe County Vicki Pierce explains that the Kitchen's free meals include all sorts of seasonal fruits and vegetables given to them by the food bank, plant-a-row for the hungry programs and the farmers market.
She also credits home gardeners for dropping by to donate their excess harvest.
"You may only have two peppers, but somebody else may have another six, and somebody else may have twelve and that allows us to have peppers to do something with them."
More Space, More Meals
This is the first spring for the Community Kitchen of Monroe County in its new location. The building is 5,400 square feet with additional storage upstairs -- over 4 times bigger than the old location.
In 2011, they served 224,000 meals that included many fresh, seasonal foods. Pierce says they are especially concerned with getting healthy food on the plates of children, who make up more than 61 percent of the Kitchen's patrons.
People have this idea of what a soup kitchen serves and that it's very meager and really processed, whatever we can throw on a plate. It's absolutely not. Food is prepared from scratch every day. Every meal has a main entrée, a vegetarian option, a side vegetable, a green salad and fruit.
Grow It Yourself
Future projects for the Kitchen involve hopefully planting a small garden of their own. They're currently working with Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District to amend the soil in the few small plots of green space on the property. When asked when ingredient the Kitchen would most like to grow, Pierce didn't hesitate to say onions.
"That's what we have to buy the most of, and the price of onions has doubled in the last three years," she says.
If the ground won't support crops, she hopes they can at least grow their own herbs in containers.