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Mobile food banks to deliver fresh produce to Flint pantries

Earlier this year, volunteers from Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Flint unload fresh produce and boxes of food from a mobile food bank.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new program is underway to get fresh produce to people affected by Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, and iron can help mitigate the effects of lead exposure. But many Flint residents don’t have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Starting this week, the state and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan are sending more than 100 truckloads of healthy food to local food pantries that serve parts of Flint that have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

“We are focused on helping the people of Flint ... address the effects of lead exposure,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a written statement. “We encourage Flint families to take advantage of this program, one of many steps we are taking as part of the city’s recovery.”

Now sacks of apples and other fresh produce are stacked to the ceiling at Salem Lutheran Church on Flint’s north side. Pastor Monica Villarreal says her church is part of the test to see how to distribute the produce to people in need. 

“I never in my life would have imagined that we would be in the kind of crisis that we are and the need to open the church up to the community as much as we have,” says Villarreal.

The program is being paid for by part of a $28 million state appropriation.

“I think this is a wonderful example of neighbor helping neighbor to provide healthy food to families to mitigate the impact of lead,” said William Kerr, president of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in a written statement.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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