Food Bank of Southern Iowa encourages nutrition, literacy with two new summer programs

The Food Bank of Southern Iowa and AmeriCorps VISTA, an organization that focuses on poverty and food insecurity, have launched two new programs this summer targeting nutrition and literacy.

The first program, Garden 2 Table Produce Donation, encourages local gardeners to donate their produce directly to food pantries, who can distribute the food to those in need when it is at its freshest. Produce is always in demand at pantries, but donating it to a food bank can delay distribution. The Food Bank of Southern Iowa is working with six agencies that accept produce to provide more fresh, locally-grown vegetables to those in need.

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Maureen Myshock said even a small donation can go a long way towards feeding a family and providing healthy options. If you would like to donate, call the Food Bank of Southern Iowa at 641-682-3403 and they will let you know which pantries are accepting produce at that time.

The second program, Reading is Delicious, asks members of the community to donate new or gently-used books at the Ottumwa YMCA Day Care or at the Ottumwa Library. Those books will then be taken to the food bank and given to children who come through with their families.

"With the summer months, we see a lot of children that come through the food pantries," Myshock said. "This will give them an opportunity to take a book home. When many families struggle, obtaining a book can be one of the harder things for them to do, this is a great opportunity for promotion of literacy for the child to have a book to read."

The Reading is Delicious program will run until August 16 and the Garden 2 Table initiative runs through October.