With the current state of the economy, it should come as no surprise that there are still families who do without the bountiful harvests of summer.
Fresh vegetables like corn and tomatoes - items you find for sale at stands along the roadside - are things that often can't be afforded on a limited budget.
For patrons of the Waukee Area Christian Food Pantry, that's not the case this season. Loads of fresh vegetables, everything from lettuce and peas to potatoes and cucumbers are coming into the Food Pantry by the pound thanks to the Fruitful Vine Garden.
The Fruitful Vine is a community garden that sits on a stretch of land adjacent to Westview Church, home of the Waukee Area Christian Food Pantry. Every year for the past three, volunteers have tended the garden harvesting produce that goes directly to the families served by the Food Pantry.
Melissa Stimple, director of the Waukee Area Christian Services, said that little something extra is a huge deal to people who may not be able to afford to buy fresh produce at the grocery store.
"They love it and they're always so excited when we have it," said Stimple. "In fact, we just had a lady ask, 'Does the garden have any fresh produce yet?' She was pretty excited. Generally, it's not a thing they can purchase. It costs more at the grocery store."
Stimple said last year the community garden produced more than 647 pounds of fresh vegetables for the 1,068 families who came through the Food Pantry's doors.
Ann Chapman, one of the many volunteer gardeners who tend to the Fruitful Vine Garden, said it's a pleasure for her to volunteer her time for such a great cause.
"We're blessed to have this garden in Waukee," said Chapman. "The Food Pantry patrons really enjoy getting fresh produce, but more so it's a real pleasure for me to be able to share whatever talent I have in the garden with them."
Stimple said patrons of the Food Pantry will be able to get fresh produce as it's harvested.
For more information on the Waukee Area Christian Food Pantry, visit their website. To receive food from the Food Pantry:
- Applicants must live in the Waukee School District.
- No appointment is necessary. Stop by during office hours, Monday 4-6 p.m. and Thursday 9-11 a.m.
- Bring proof of residence (like a utility bill or apartment lease) and a photo ID.
- Services are confidential and private.