September is National Hunger Action Month, and here in Vermont local apple orchards are teaming up with the Vermont Foodbank to give Vermonters a fun way to take action. In partnership with sponsors, Target and Front Porch Forum, and 18 local apple orchards, the Vermont Foodbank is mobilizing groups and individuals throughout the state to pick apples for people facing hunger through the Pick For Your Neighbor Program.
During apple harvest season, the Vermont Foodbank encourages individuals, families, civic groups and businesses to visit participating apple orchards to pick and purchase extra apples for people struggling to afford healthy food. The fresh picked apples go to the Vermont Foodbank, which then distributes them to food shelves and meal sites throughout the state to provide to people in their local communities.
“The impact you can have when you share healthy food with people is incredible,” says Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “Many of the people served by the Foodbank struggle with health issues, so we are working hard to make sure all our neighbors have access to the fresh food they need to lead healthy lives. In this case, an apple a day really can keep the doctor away!”
Food insecurity is closely linked to health. According to Hunger in America 2014, 72% of the people served by the Vermont Foodbank report having to purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options. Hunger also coincides with diet-related illnesses, with 23% of Vermont Foodbank clients suffering from diabetes and 46% living with high blood pressure. By meeting the needs of Vermonters with fresh, nutritious foods, programs like Pick For Your Neighbor can help them achieve better health, lower health care bills, and a higher quality of life.
“All year long, we look forward to the harvest season and the bounty it brings our state,” says Sayles. “Spending a day picking apples with friends and family is always a highlight of season. This is a great opportunity to add a great cause to that experience. As you make your annual orchard visit, take a little extra time to pick a few apples for someone who doesn’t always have access to the incredible fresh food our state has to offer.”
Each year businesses, civic groups, and community members have come together to participate. Last year Wood Chuck Hard Cider employees visited Champlain Orchards and picked 2,000 pounds of apples to donate. “This is a wonderful opportunities for businesses to offer their employees a fun team-building day while giving back to the community,” adds Sayles. “We encourage all businesses, civic groups, and community members to Pick For Your Neighbor this year!”
Since its inception, Pick for Your Neighbor has brought more than 100,000 pounds of fresh, local apples to Vermonters facing hunger. To learn more and to see a list of participating orchards, visit: www.vtfoodbank.org/PFYN.