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Food Bank of NWI distributes bounty of produce

Goram Pretoski (left) assists as Gregg Geffe Hammond Ind. gathers produce during giveaway held Wicker Park HighlInd. Tuesday June 26

Goram Pretoski (left) assists as Gregg Geffe, of Hammond, Ind., gathers produce during a giveaway held at Wicker Park in Highland, Ind., on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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At a glance

Upcoming stops for the Mobile Pantry On The Go (distributions are 3 to 5 p.m.) include:

Monday, July 9: Sacred Heart Church, 124 N. New York, Remington

Monday, July 16: Wicker Park Pavilion, 8554 Indianapolis Blvd., Highland

Monday, July 23: Burns Harbor, location to be determined

Monday, July 30: Hebron, location to be determined

For more information about the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, call 980-1777.

Updated: August 5, 2012 6:08AM



When a family member’s diet needs to be modified for health reasons, it can be supportive for the family to eat differently, too.

This is the case for the Flores family of Schererville. Their daughter Christina has heart concerns and her doctor told her she needs to eat many more fruits and vegetables.

“We are learning to shop and cook differently,” mother Anna Flores said, as she and her husband Andy waited first in line at a recent produce giveaway at Wicker Park. “That’s a good thing, we all need to eat healthy.”

The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana schedules regular food giveaways, and the recent one at Wicker Park served a dual purpose.

Before the produce distribution began, DaVita Dialysis presented a $20,000 donation to the pantry. The company has 10 local medical facilities in Northwest Indiana.

“This money will be used towards the produce program,” Megan Sikes, communication/advocacy manager of the Food Bank, told the crowd. “The Davita staff also is volunteering today to staff this distribution.”

One of those employees, clinical coordinator Linda Cullen, staffed a table at the food distribution.

“I had heard of the Food Bank but didn’t know exactly what was involved. I certainly wasn’t expecting this many people,” she said as she glanced at the large crowd lined up around the park’s large shelter building. “I didn’t realize there was such a need. Hopefully, the Food Bank can continue this program.”

Jean Ysbrand is the director of people services for Davita Dialysis, which only recently has become involved with the Food Bank.

“We were looking to partner with an organization like the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana — and we feel we’ve made a very good match,” Ysbrand said. “We have 10 clinics in Northwest Indiana and believe in getting involved with our communities.”

For two hours, more than 300 families received the produce, as they exchanged stories with each other.

“I don’t mind waiting in line, this is something many of us need,” said mother of three Rose Unruh of Gary. “I am not working and have a small baby at home. My food budget doesn’t go as far as it used to, that’s for sure. So this (event) is a big help.”

The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana has set a goal of one million pounds of produce to be distributed by the end of the year, according to executive director Angie Williams.

“Produce is hard to come by for food pantries, as well as the Food Bank, since it is so expensive,” she added. “We are grateful to Davita for their generous donation — it will help us in that goal of distributing more fresh produce to those in need.”



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