Holy Kale: Church, CSA help feed the hungry

green-brettwilsonstabBrett Wilson is sullying local produce to the hungry.

Who says the local food movement is only for the privileged? Thanks to Horse & Buggy Produce, a local foods cooperative, and Downtown’s Holy Comforter Catholic Church, some locally grown food is finding its way into the mouths of the hungry.

For years now, Holy Comforter has operated a food pantry every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; and the Jefferson Street institution operated a soup kitchen on Thursday, serving 800 people a month. About a month ago, Laura Knox, a Eucharistic Minister there, asked Horse & Buggy owner Brett Wilson what he did with all his unsold food.

H&B has been a distributor of locally produced foods since 2006, and today has over 800 subscribers, who pick up meat, veggies, dairy, fish, and baked goods at various drop spots around town.

Wilson told her that most of the unsold food is composted, but Knox said, “why not bring it to us?”

At first, Wilson questioned whether people would want produce so close to it expiration, but after Knox distributed a few boxes of Wilson’s corn and tomatoes, the reaction from the soup kitchen was unequivocal.

“You’d have thought you handed them the Holy Grail,” says Knox.

Since then, Knox has been picking up food Wilson has marked for her at his warehouse every Monday morning.

“We’re happy to cut a spoiled spot out of a pepper, or give away any food we’re not going to sell,” says Wilson, who points out that most food banks tend to serve canned or processed food, which isn’t particularly nutritious. “The obesity rate for people who eat food from food banks is like double the national average,” he says.

Wilson says it’s no big deal, as he simply donates food he would have thrown out anyway, and because Knox picks it up herself. But Knox wants to make sure Wilson gets some credit.

“He’s just doing this out of the goodness of his heart,” she says.

Knox also mentions that Wilson has begun buying produce at auction just for them.

“Yeah, if no one else is bidding, I’ll buy stuff just for the church,” says Wilson. “I mean, no one is bidding, so we might as well feed some hungry people.”