Produce part of food bank funding

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The new state budget provides more money for food banks across Ohio, and that’s good news for local agencies.

The Difference Makers Food Pantry in Campbell is stocked and ready to go for its bi-weekly pickup. Jose Santiago said they received an important delivery of fresh produce from the Second Harvest Food Bank.

“We’ve been getting a lot more produce, but we’ve been getting a lot more people, too,” said Santiago.

For families in need, it’s easy to skip actually buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the store. Mike Iberis with Second Harvest Food Bank said fruits and vegetables are usually something people on a fixed income forgo because of the price.

Twelve years ago, state lawmakers started providing money to food banks so they can buy surplus crops from Ohio growers. In the latest state budget, legislators provided an additional $2 million for the program, bringing the total to $15 million. Second Harvest will get $125,000 of that increase.

“This year, that $125,000 will be able to get us another 200,000 pounds of food, so it increases getting close to about 3 million pounds being distributed this year,” said Iberis.

That’s good news for pantries like the Difference Makers, who served 377 families last month, which is almost 100 more than their average.

“At the end of the distribution, there’s nothing left or very little left,” said Santiago.

The pantry in Campbell is open every other Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be open Wednesday at St. Lucy’s Church.

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