Bring fresh veggies to seniors by planting a little extra this year

If you ask Joy, a Meals on Wheels client in St. Paul, there’s nothing in the world that compares to the taste of a freshly picked tomato right out of the garden.

“They have such a rich taste,” she says. “There’s just no comparison to what you’d get in the store.”

Joy doesn’t have a garden of her own, but fresh tomatoes and other vegetables are delivered with her meals from the West 7th Meals on Wheels site in St. Paul during the growing season. Vegetables are picked the day they are delivered to clients from garden plots right outside the West 7th Community Center, where volunteers pick up meals to be delivered to clients.

Knowing that many clients like Joy don’t have access to fresh produce, a number of Meals on Wheels sites are developing or expanding programs that deliver garden goodies to their clients. These programs take Meals on Wheels’ commitment to providing nutritious food a step further – and this year you can help by donating produce from your own garden. Local gardeners can donate their extra produce to CEAP Meals on Wheels this summer through their new Salads for Seniors program.

CEAP, which operates both a food shelf and a Meals on Wheels neighborhood site serving Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and the north Camden neighborhood of Minneapolis, offers fresh produce at its food shelf through the Garden Gleaning Project. This year, select Meals on Wheels clients will receive salads that are neatly packaged and use vegetables that are donated to CEAP.

“The veggies go in a nice little basket, along with a card,” says Clare Brumback, COO & Director of Development at CEAP, who is helping with the project. “It looks really pretty.”

Gardeners can donate any type of vegetable that would go well in a salad, including but not limited to greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and radishes. CEAP simply asks that donations are labeled, in good condition and free of pests.

Donations can be dropped off at the CEAP food shelf (7051 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Center) and donors can simply specify that they are intended for the Salads for Seniors program. Donation hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

For more information on the program, contact Samantha Grover at 612-812-3721 or [email protected]. More information on the Garden Gleaning Project and participating organizations can be found at gardengleaning.org.