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Plentiful Produce reaching out to provide fresh fruits, vegetables

In the dead of winter, just hours after a snowstorm blew through Tonopah, a group of volunteers gathered inside the Tonopah Convention Center.

With Pastor Michael Farris of First Baptist Church of Tonopah helping map out the game plan, group members readied for their effort — delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need around the community.

It’s all part of an effort known as Plentiful Produce that seeks to help families in need through Nye County’s Food Security Committee.

“It’s a group, people who are passionate about food in our community,” said Shambra Jones, service center coordinator in Tonopah for the Salvation Army and chairwoman for the Food Security Committee of Nye County.

“We get together, and if there’s lacking of anything, a pantry, an afterschool program that doesn’t have food, any type of gap, we come together and figure out a solution for it,” she said.

Partners include the NyE Communities Coalition, the First Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, Health and Human Services of Nye County and Heart and Hearth pantry of the Assembly of God Church in Tonopah.

Plentiful Produce is a nine-month effort that began last fall.

“We have separated out $10,000 of grant money to give fresh fruits and vegetables to people in our community for free,” Jones said.

“If they’re in need, if they’re having a hard time and need help with grocery bills and need this produce and maybe use (their) money for meat, this is what this is,” she said.

The most recent effort featured strawberries, apples, bananas, a large head of romaine lettuce and onions.

In all, 120 bags were filled by volunteers the night before distribution.

“We have done up to 151 at Christmas, and our average is about 140 each month,” Jones said. “We order it here locally. That way everything kind of stays local.”

Delivery and pickup are available for those in need.

The type of produce varies by month, including everything from pumpkins to grapes.

“We make it whatever is cost-effective and fresh that month,” Jones said, noting that items at food pantries usually are generally “pantry stable”— non-perishable products.

Community members as far away as Goldfield and Silver Peak are served through the program.

About 25 volunteers were on hand for the most recent distribution with 28 helping to bag the produce the night before delivery.

The volunteers included Joann Hayden of Tonopah.

“Generally, I think people really appreciate it,” she said just before helping fill a minivan with food. “It is very important to them.”

Hayden first volunteered last summer, joining others in helping feed children at a local park.

“This is my fourth time, but I will do it every time I am available,” she said.

“I think this is a terrific, terrific service to the community. It is one of the things I love about Tonopah. I see so much helping people here. I came from California where you don’t even know your neighbors.”

A closer look

To get involved go to Salvation Army Tonopah on Facebook

The Salvation Army Tonopah can be reached at 775-482-5425

The NyE Communities Coalition can be reached at 775-482-9883

Contact reporter David Jacobs at djacobs@tonopahtimes.com

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