Picture a food shelf: Canned vegetables, boxes of cereal, jars of peanut butter and packages of pasta, right?
At the Eagan and Lakeville Resource Centers, about half of the food offered to those in need has been fresh or perishable — produce, milk, eggs, even meat and fish — and this year, the growing food shelf hopes 70 percent of the food it distributes to Dakota County residents will be fresh.
“You think of all the health disparities that are facing low-income families. So you think about how important that fresh food is for families who are in need of food support,” said Lisa Horn, executive director of the Eagan and Lakeville Resource Centers. “It’s vital to their health. It’s vital to their production at work. It’s vital to kids learning at school.”
The fresh food ambition comes as the food shelf, known as the Pantry, continues to see increasing need.
In 2011, the two grocery-store-style locations gave 679,343 pounds of food to 9,944 families, an increase from 384,085 pounds to 5,567 families in 2010.