Monday, August 2, 2010

Solution for Messy Fruit Trees

If I get hungry in the summer, I don't have to go further than my yard to find something tasty to eat. When my husband and I bought our house seven years ago, it came equipped with an acre lot full of mature fruit trees, grapevines and a garden plot for growing vegetables. Over the years, we've added strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, and thanks to the rich soil of central Illinois we always have an abundance of fresh, nutritious food to share with family and friends.

But even our fresh food paradise has its drawbacks. Every August the branches of our pear tree become laden with fruit, and much of it rots before we can enjoy it. The pears fall to the ground in messy piles that have to be scooped up and tossed in the compost. It always makes me sad to see the fruit go to waste, but with the help of Eastern Illinois Foodbank, I think I finally found a solution.

Last year my Rotary Club (C-U Sunrise) recruited volunteers for a food repack at the foodbank, and I spent an evening sorting canned goods. That night I learned about the demand for food in our local community and how it has risen dramatically due to the poor economy. Stories about first-time pantry users really troubled me and made me aware that my family could be next.

Since that night, I have become more familiar with the foodbank and the work they do to distribute food to pantries in 14 counties in the eastern part of our state. During a recent conversation with one of their staff I learned that while the demand for food has gone up, the nutritional quality of corporate food donations has gone down. Eastern Illinios Foodbank would like to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables for their clients, but they don't receive enough donations to accomodate the need.

After that conversation I began to wonder if my messy pear tree could serve a new purpose. I asked Cheryl Precious, director of marketing and development at the foodbank, if they could distribute my pears to a local pantry. The next thing I knew, one of their staff was helping me load empty cardboard boxes into the back of my van.

The following Saturday, with the help of my three daughters, we picked our pear tree clean.

Three of us picked while one sorted, cleaned and inspected the harvest. In a couple of hours, three large cases of fruit were sitting on my kitchen table ready to go to the foodbank.
Now I know my three cases of pears won't make a dent in the overall hunger needs of my community, but it's a start. If you have messy fruit trees in your yard, I encourage you to call Eastern Illinois Foodbank to see how you can help. In the meantime, I'll be waiting for my apples to turn red.

Molly Delaney (the author of this post) is a concerned parent as well as educational outreach director for Illinois Public Media and a member of C-U Fit Families and C-U Sunrise Rotary.
For more information on Eastern Illinois Foodbank, call 217-328-3663.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Awesome direct action, Molly and fam!!!! Great story and photos. I will tweet this story on the CU Fit Families Twitter account as well as my own personal twitter account. Wonderful!!!