With support from the Nola Gentry Fund through the Indiana 4-H Foundation, the St. Joseph County 4-H program donated $1,000.00 to their partners at Cultivate Food Rescue in South Bend, Indiana.
Before the pandemic, Cultivate Food Rescue had been collecting prepared, unserved food from local restaurants, event centers, schools, along with the University of Notre Dame. The food was converted into frozen meals by hundreds of volunteers and then redistributed to those in need in and around St. Joseph County. Cultivate Food Rescue's most popular program in St. Joseph County is the weekend backpack program that distributes frozen meals in insulated backpacks to food-insecure students.
Since the pandemic, the need for organizations like Cultivate Food Rescue has skyrocketed, however the sources of prepared, unserved food have disappeared as events have been cancelled and normal day-to-day operations shut down. Now, instead of food rescue, Cultivate has shifted its focus to other food support systems such as the USDA and local farmers who are providing dry goods, dairy, produce and livestock. In addition, Cultivate also partners with other local agencies and food banks to distribute the food around Indiana.
Randy Z, a Co-Founder and the Executive Chef of Cultivate Food Rescue, said they now produce 10 times as many meals as they normally did before the COVID-19 crisis. As a result of the pandemic, Cultivate’s reach has now been extended as meals are being provided to families at the Ronald McDonald House and members of the Boys & Girls Club of St. Joseph County.
St. Joseph County 4-H looks forward to building on its three-year partnership with Cultivate Food Rescue in the future. The volunteer and learning opportunities for 4-H members are endless. In addition to this grant of $1,000.00, the 4-H program livestock members, through the generosity of Meat Hunger and Hoosiers Feeding The Hungry, are providing animals that are processed and included in the frozen meals for the weekend backpack program.
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