We know that the freshest, most nutritious food available is the food that’s grown by our local farmers. Providing residents in Northwest Michigan with a vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season is a commitment our farmers have made to support the health and well-being of our community.

We also know that many of our neighbors that utilize our area food pantries and community meal sites struggle to put food on the table to feed their families. And being able to purchase locally grown fresh food, which is often more costly than processed food, simply is not an option for them.

Lack of access to healthy food has a profound negative impact on the lives of our food insecure neighbors, because it makes them more susceptible to many health-related issues, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. And it is much more difficult for those in our community living with these health-related issues to be successful in many aspects of life.

In an effort to improve the health and well-being of our community by providing greater access to locally grown food, four rotary clubs in Northwest Michigan joined forces and in January 2018, donated more than $20,000 to the Northwest Food Coalition to create the Coalition’s Farm To Neighbor Fund. All donations to the fund are used to purchase produce from area farmers for distribution at food pantries and meal sites in the five-county Grand Traverse area. Since January 2018, thousands of pounds of carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, pears, acorn and butternut squash and apples have been purchased directly from local farmers and enjoyed by our neighbors in need.

With the growing season upon us, contributions from our community for this very important program would be greatly appreciated. To support the Farm To Neighbor Fund, please go to https://www.nmcaa.net/farm2neighbor.asp. If you’d like to learn more about the Northwest Food Coalition, please go to www.northwestfoodcoalition.org.

Thank you for your support. Your generosity will be felt by many.

About the author: Kris Thomas is a member of the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club. Since leading a food security study for her club in 2014, she has volunteered in different capacities to alleviate hunger in northern Michigan, including working with Food Rescue and the Northwest Food Coalition.

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