Thursday, May 1, 2014

Green Groceries gives back

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 7:16 AM

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Obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables is often financially burdensome for low-income families. This, coupled with the fact that much of the fast-food and pre-packaged, processed foods are so inexpensive, only adds to the obesity epidemic in our country—of which Arkansas, of course, is not immune. But one local organization is working to increase the availability of more nutritious foods to the low-income community. Green Groceries is an all-natural food pantry serving these families within the greater Little Rock area. The program is a ministry of Christ Episcopal Church and was created as a pilot food program in spring of 2013.

I spoke with Green Groceries director, Susie Shinn, about the developing program. “The mission of Green Groceries is simple: to provide fresh, local food to low-income families in need,” she says, “The Arkansas Local Food Network (ALFN), supplies the food for Green Groceries and the symbiotic relationship between the two entities is mutually beneficial; families are given fresh, local food they otherwise could not afford, and small farmers are given reliable bimonthly orders to sustain their operations.”

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The food is all locally sourced, and purchased with private funds donated to Christ Church. Families can pick up their groceries twice a month—on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, between 5 to 7 pm. Clients shop through long tables laden mostly with fresh, organic produce—each family allowed one of each item available. Leftover food is stored at the church for future pick-up dates, and perishable food is donated the Dorcas House.

Qualified clients are referred through a number of organizations also providing services to low-income families such as: Our House, Our House CAFSI (Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute) Program, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Pulaski County, St. Francis House, and the STAY Day Program for Veterans.

The program is currently still in its pilot phase. Clients are only accepted through referral and at this time no new clients are being accepted. However, Green Groceries hopes that as more food becomes available, the program will be able to expand. Shinn says, “The ability to help low-income families lead healthy lives has been the biggest accomplishment of Green Groceries since its first pickup in July 2013. Future goals for the program include sustaining existing operations, as well as, growing the program serve more low-income families in need.”

It’s wonderful to see such important work being done in Little Rock. The chance to acquire wholesome foods from local producers is one that I hope more families have the opportunity to take advantage of. For more information or to find out how to assist with Green Groceries, please contact Susie Shinn at (501) 416-9825 or greengroceries@christchurchlr.org

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