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Food Policy Council brings food, education to the community

By LEANA CHOATE - lchoate@newsexaminer.com

A small group of concerned citizens started the Fayette County Food Policy Council more than two years ago to help local people who need helping getting food.

The group had been told that Gleaners mobile food pantry might stop coming to Fayette County because of a lack of community coordination.

“Gleaners was possibly going to be pulling out of our county,” Becky Marvel, Food Policy Council coordinator, said. “After five years of coming, Gleaners was going to leave because our community didn’t come together and to have one voice, which meant there wasn’t good communication within the food pantries.”

Gleaners, out of Indianapolis, serves more than 250 partner agencies in 21 Indiana counties. Gleaners helps distribute food to residents in Fayette County who needed it.

“We didn’t want them to pull out of Fayette County, so we formed a Food Policy Council for one voice for better communication,” Marvel said. “We formed the Food Policy Council in order to help Fayette County with food drive and initially in order to bring Gleaners back to the community – and we did.”

The Fayette County Food Policy Council aims to help those in the community who need help in receiving food and how to eat healthily. The council helps by trying to bring the Fayette County pantries together to work as a team in better providing for the hungry individuals. 

“People not having food is a general issue in our community,” Lea Ann Robinson, president of Fayette County Community Voices and member of the Food Policy Council, said. 

The council hosts community food drives open to all the food pantries and feeding programs. It conducted successful food drives in November and December, with volunteers collecting food donations at local grocery stores. The next food drive will be April 5.

Besides hosting food drives, the council also works with the nutrition education program through Purdue Extension. Marvel is that nutrition education program’s regional community wellness coordinator. That program offers interactive lessons that help participants plan nutritious meals, be active, handle food safely, spend food dollars wisely and improve food purchasing and preparation skills.

At the last council meeting, Marvel showed how to make nutritious meals using food that pantries usually give out.

“Many people get these canned foods and boxed foods from the pantries and say, ‘I don’t know what to do with these,’ so we thought we would show them what all they can make,” Marvel said. “We want to educate and help people eat healthily with the items they get.”

The council meets monthly at 4:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday at the Purdue Extension office located in the lower level of the Fayette County Courthouse, 401 Central Ave.

For more information about the nutrition education program, visit eatgathergo.org or call the Purdue Extension office at 765-825-8502.