One of those ideas that sound simple and obvious -- after somebody thinks of it:
Standing in the vacant kitchen of the former Azar's former corporate headquarters, the executive director of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana conjures images of mounds of sweet corn and bushels of green beans.
Jane Avery had an idea that in as little as 18 months will be realized. She was trying to think up new areas to tap for food. Food banks often operate in the gray areas, trying to find food that would otherwise go to waste, she said.
“I was looking out my window and I could see a farm. Why don't we start at the beginning of the food chain instead of way down on it?” she asked.
Avery has heard that 6.3 billion pounds of fresh produce goes to waste nationally every year. Why not create a space in the food bank's newly donated building to allow for blanching, chilling and freezing donations of fresh food, she thought?
The building, at 1010 Coliseum Blvd. N., had been the Azar commissary and corporate offices. It includes a 7,000-square-foot office space and a 26,604-square-foot warehouse, including more than 3,000 square feet of freezer-refrigerator space. Avery believes this is the perfect spot to start a fresh-food preparation area for the food bank, which supplies pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and member agencies in nine counties of northeast Indiana, including Allen.
Since they haven't spent the money yet, they might also want to consider a canning operation. The food lasts longer than frozen and won't be subject to loss or spoilage if the electricity goes out. I grew up where a lot of people got through the winter by growing their own vegetables and growing enough to eat year-round. Few people had big freezers, so canning was the thing. I remember lots of canned tomatoes. I think they must have bought fruit in season and canned that, too -- there seemed to be lots of canned peaches, despite an obvious lack of peach trees.