It’s common to picture canned goods and boxes of food when you think of a food bank. While this is accurate for many facilities, The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia does a whole lot more than that.
Not only does The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia collect leftover fresh bread from local businesses in Athens such as Panera, Athens Bagel, and Einstein’s, but it grows fresh produce in its own backyard that is added to the general pantry along with everything else.
According to Jerry Horton, Volunteer Coordinator at the food bank, “It’s a small garden, but during the height of our picking season we produce anywhere from 70 to 120 pounds of produce a day.” Fresh herbs and spices are also grown there and made available in the general pantry.
In the effort to go as green as possible, Horton explained a new irrigation system that is in the process of implementation and will be completed by the Spring. He said, “It’s an above ground sock garden. They’re like tubes that are filled with rich compost and potting soil, which allows us to poke a hole in the sock to put a seed in, and we can grow above ground once we irrigate those tubes, we just don’t have water in them yet.”
Garden.org explains that sock gardens were originally invented for erosion control, but are now widely utilized for gardening because they require little soil and make use of compost. Needless to say, they’re great for the environment and also only require minimal water, which is why drip irrigation systems usually accompany them.
“12 Million Pounds”
(That’s how much food produced every year by the Food Bank.)
“18 Million Pounds”
(That’s how much food needed to statistically end hunger in the 14 counties served by the food bank.)
Horton says, “We’ll never fully be able to end hunger, but we want to be at a level where, if someone were hungry, there’s food available for them. Our goal is to do that in 5 years and we’ll probably be able to do it in less because of our new facility as well as the generosity of our community, the businesses, and people coming and volunteering their time. It’s so amazing it’s hard to grasp.”
All of those aspects Horton mentioned, along with the garden, showcase The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia as a positive influence on the Athens community and surrounding areas. Not only are they fighting to end hunger in the region, they’re fighting to be as eco-friendly as possible.
By: Jessica Silverman