Georgia Magazine - August 2017 - 20
The Atlanta Community Food Bank's Learning Kitchen assists clients of
partner organizations who want to learn how to cook healthy meals. An
estimated 68 percent of Georgia food bank client households have a member
with high blood pressure, and 38 percent have a member with diabetes.
Each regional bank is able to
tailor its efforts to needs unique to its
territory. For example, the Feeding
the Valley Food Bank in Columbus
operates a commercial kitchen that
feeds thousands of senior citizens
and children in its service area each
week. The Buddy Pack Program discreetly packages ready-to-eat foods
into backpacks that are given to
children identified by their schools as
living in food-insecure households.
A mobile pantry delivers boxes of
donated food to areas where clients
have no access to agencies that can
The Atlanta Community Food
Bank (ACFB) serves half the state's
population in 29 counties in Northwest Georgia. Its efforts go far beyond traditional warehouse offerings,
says Public Relations Manager Chaundra Luckett.
The ACFB's educational initiatives
include the Community Food Experience, an interactive simulation that
helps groups such as teachers and
civic or corporate organizations understand the societal and economic
issues contributing to food insecurity.
The Atlanta Prosperity Campaign
helps connect families to benefits
such as the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program and Medicaid.
Through the Community Gar20
dens project, the ACFB works to
establish and maintain hundreds of
gardens throughout its service area.
Residents work together to grow
and harvest fresh produce-critical
in areas where fruits and vegetables
are both expensive and hard to find,
Luckett says. A health and wellness
team teaches clients from partner
agencies how to cook healthy meals
on a budget.
"Some people have to choose
between paying the bills and putting
food on the table," Luckett says. "We
are working to be a resource so that
they don't have to."
Food for a promising future
In Savannah, the America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia food
bank started a Kids Café program
that has been adopted by agencies
across the country and has grown
into the third-largest hunger initiative
in the United States, says Executive
Director Mary Jane Crouch. The food
bank's commercial kitchen prepares
nutritious meals for children in afterschool programs and expands during
the summer to prepare 7,000 breakfasts and lunches. It also delivers
prepared lunches to public libraries,
where many of those children spend
their days in the summer.
"Many of these children have
no access to food at night or to food
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that is healthy," Crouch says. "We
offer homework assistance and help
with job training. We want to help
them break the cycle of poverty, and
education is one of the key ways we
can do that."
That holistic approach extends to
adults in the area, who can receive
help with job training and access to a
"working family" pantry that is open
in the evenings to accommodate
workers-sometimes people holding
two or three jobs-who need assistance.
Rural areas of the state have
proven just as critical in the fight
against hunger. The Harvest for
All campaign, spearheaded by the
Georgia Farm Bureau's Young Farmer
Committee, last year raised $20,000
for the GFBA. Those funds in turn
help the Farm to Food Bank program, which Craft says is the association's largest, fastest-growing source
Each year, South Georgia farmers
donate more than 13 million pounds
of fruits and vegetables classified as
"No. 2" by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture-nutritionally fine, but
either the wrong size or not "pretty
enough" for supermarket shelves.
Local food banks get first dibs, Craft
says, and then the food is shared
thoughout the state and even traded
with out-of-state banks to provide a