By Jared Janzen
HALSTEAD—Eight pallets worth of produce were distributed over the lunch hour on Thursday during USD-440’s first foray into the USDA’s new Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Maintenance staff helping with the distribution estimated this to equal about 280 boxes.
That left about 16 pallets of produce. Staff will offer distribution again from 4:30 to 6 p.m. this evening in front of the USD-440 District Office.
“Hopefully we’ll have enough people come out to get rid of it all,” said Tony Santiago, one of the maintenance workers helping with distribution. “We might take a couple boxes to Safehope.”
“The guys at the legion are taking some stuff down to Bentley,” maintenance worker Austin Radke added.
Boxes included a variety of fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, oranges, potatoes, pears, grapefruit, lettuce and cabbage. As of 1 p.m., the shipment of dairy products hadn’t arrived.
Those who came to receive the free produce expressed their gratitude for it.
“A lot of ‘Thank yous’ and ‘Appreciate its,’” Santiago said. “Everyone seems pretty appreciative.”
Residents of Burrton and Sedgwick are also invited to come to Halstead for the free food boxes. The distribution is open to anyone, regardless of age or income.
The opportunity came through USD-440’s summer food service program, which provides free breakfasts and lunches to children.
According to the USDA website, the food box program was designed to serve families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also providing a market for American farmers and distributors.
The produce and dairy distribution is expected to continue every Thursday through the summer.