New Program Providing Texomans with More than Free Produce

- It's well-known that eating fresh fruits and vegetables is healthier for you but in the past, those who depended on the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank for groceries didn't get much produce until four months ago.

The Wichita Falls Area Food Bank is a member of the Feeding America network and most of the network's agencies distribute at least 25% of produce. Two years ago, the food bank learned its produce distribution was just 17%.

So, last November the food bank kicked off its Produce Express program to increase its distribution number and officials say that program is having a positive impact on clients and their health.

Free fruits and vegetables is a deal Rose Killian is excited to get at Floral Heights United Methodist Church.

"They have little bitty Cutie oranges and apples and the grand babies love them," says Rose Killian, who regularly visits the food pantry at Floral Heights United Methodist Church.

And it's all thanks to the local food bank's Produce Express program.

"My truck is operating, right now, five days a week.  And eventually it will be six days a week," says Wendell Griffin, operations manager the Wichita falls Area Food Bank.

Each week day the truck picks up thousands of pounds of fresh produce in Tarrant County. On this day, Wichita Falls Wildcats members helped bag 40,000 lbs of onions and other produce.

It's food that provides Texomans in need with more nutrition to take home.

"I have young mothers that come in and they're so thrilled to get apples and oranges and grapes.. all of the things that we have for them because it's things that they can't buy," says Aimee Brown, pantry director at Floral Heights United Methodist Church.

This food is also making a positive impact on Rose Killian who is on a tight budget and diabetic.

"My A1C has dropped tremendously.  I've dropped an entire point and my doctor is extremely happy with that.  He wanted to know what I'd been doing differently. Hey, doc.  This is it," Killian explains.

The food bank says Produce Express is in such demand now it expects to distribute 78,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables for the month for just the month of March. As of Thursday, they're at more than 30,000 pounds.

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