The Othello Food Bank in Adams County is promoting increased access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables through their client choice healthy pantry, as well as the Othello community garden. Sharon, Othello’s food bank manager, has emphasized the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables and healthier food choices among clients.
“Having the fresh produce first for selections I believe certainly does encourage our clients to make some healthier choices,” she said. “When you’re in line and anxious about getting food for your family, you are pretty much focused on getting what you see first.”
Many pantries are making the switch to become so-called Healthy Pantries – places that put an emphasis on healthy foods, produce and include healthy nudges. According to Feeding America, healthy nudges are subtle environment changes in a food distribution setting, designed to make a healthy choice the easy choice.
Through their partnership with Second Harvest, the Othello location has implemented many healthy nudges, including signage, nutrition education materials, providing recipes for healthy meals and information on how to store and prepare fruits and vegetables, and product placement using MyPlate guidelines.
Othello is more than just a food pantry – staff is involved in community events as well, and believes in building relationships. Othello was recently involved in a Bake for Good Kids at Othello Middle School. The school opened one a cafeteria for participants to mix and bake bread. The students, many who don’t have ovens at home, baked one loaf of bread for their family and one loaf for the food bank.
The food bank also participates in a summer food program for kids, Second Harvest’s Bite2Go program, and encourages healthy food donations from its partnerships.