Healthy Food Week provides fresh food for local food bank

BALTIMORE - It's a soup kitchen that serves a lot more than soup.

Fresh vegetables cut and peeled; sandwiches on whole grain bread, and stew with fresh turkey and veggies.

Dishes made from scratch every day by volunteers.

The kitchen at the Franciscan Center on West 23rd Street feeds a lot of people every day.

But their quest is to provide healthy options.

"They have meatless Monday I love that. I didn't realize that I liked cauliflower until I came here and the way they prepare it is great."

Floyd Vines says the center has opened his eyes to many different foods.

He says he comes here near the end of the month to have a meal and to pick up some food for his family to help make ends meet.

On the average the Franciscan center dishes up 87 thousand meals and gives out more than seven thousand bags of groceries each year to help people in need...including food that's lower in fat, sodium and features whole grains.

Food from the United Way drive will help keep these pantries stocked during the crucial summer months when the need is great but donations go down.

"The needs continues long after the holidays it's especially important in the summer many children in the community are now getting some of their meals every day at school and when they're out of school that won't be an option so many of them will come here for their midday meal but many families will have a greater need for the resources in our food pantry." Franciscan Center Development Director Meg Ducey says.

The center does a lot for the community.

From computer and job search training to giving away clothing including professional clothing for men to help them go to job interviews to find work for the long term.

But it's the food that helps a lot of people get through to the next day.

 "I know a lot of people are worried about genetically modified foods and stuff with high fructose but because you're on a limited income sometimes those are the only foods you can afford come here once a day to eat a healthy meal."      Vines says.

Working with the Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and other partners the Franciscan Center is doing surveys to find out what kind of healthy options that are the most popular.

With help from local farms, their fresh harvest program will offer produce and even provide spices and cooking instructions to help people try new foods.

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