TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--Second Harvest of the Big Bend relies on fruit and vegetable growers in north Florida to give people healthy options.
The produce program of the food bank is one of many programs we are highlighting ahead of our WTXL Turkey Drive.
We are gathering turkeys on November 17 to help Second Harvest feed those who might not otherwise have a Thanksgiving meal.
Vegetables from the fields at the North Florida Research and Education Center often end up at Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Thousands of pounds a year are collected for the produce program from here all the way to Marianna.
"A lot of people don't realize how much produce is grown here in north Florida and our service area is 11 counties," said food resources director Bob Fritchey. "We're serving over 120 agencies supply them with canned goods and fresh produce so our contacts with the local growers is very important."
Fritchey says it's with their help, they're able to serve healthy and nutritious food.
The center has up to 15 acres of vegetable crops they grow as part of research.
Associate horticulture professor Josh Freeman says there's only so much of it they can give away to their employees.
"There's no reason to dump it so Second Harvest is a good outlet for us to get rid of it," said Freeman. "Our employees can only eat so many tomatoes, watermelons, and cantaloupes before they get tired of them."
The biggest challenge is often getting the vegetables and fruits from the fields to the food bank so volunteers are always needed.
It's all to meet the needs of so many people here in the Big Bend
The WTXL Turkey Drive is November 17.
You can stop by Ponce De Leon Park and donate cash, a check or a turkey.