United Way gives South Kitsap Helpline its Impact Award

The South Kitsap Helpline was awarded the Community Impact Award by United Way of Kitsap County.   - courtesy photo
The South Kitsap Helpline was awarded the Community Impact Award by United Way of Kitsap County.
— image credit: courtesy photo

The South Kitsap Helpline Food Bank has received United Way’s 2010 Community Impact Award for Promoting Health and Wellness for its efforts to bring healthy food to food bank clients and the greater community — highlighted by its purchase this year of the former Port Orchard Nursery.

Since its founding in 1980, the food bank’s goal has been to help feed people in need, but it has become clear to Helpline officials over the years the goal could be accomplished in a better, healthier way.

To do so, the agency made it a priority to make more healthy foods available to clients while offering on-going educational and opportunities for clients and the greater community.

“We’re so honored to receive this award,” said Jennifer Hardison, executive director of South Kitsap Helpline, “and to be recognized for the hard work our staff and volunteers have put into making this project such a success, even in these early stages.

“Kitsap County United Way has supported our program in so many ways over the years,” she said. “We’re so grateful to them for their belief in our mission and for this wonderful acknowledgement of our efforts. It means so much to all of us.”

With the purchase of the Port Orchard Nursery in early 2010 made possible with a grant from the Birkenfeld Trust, Helpline’s on-site nursery greenhouses and outdoor gardens have helped to provide fresh produce to accompany food baskets for those in need.

This spring and summer, its gardens provided an assortment of fresh produce for clients including cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans and a variety of fresh herbs.

Also, through numerous partnerships with other local farmers, local businesses like Port Orchard Produce Stand (POPS) and groups like the Master Gardener’s Olalla garden, fresh fruits and vegetables donated from other sources have been plentiful and food bank recipients have reaped the benefits.

Plans for the food bank’s fall and winter harvest also include the addition of kale and winter squashes along with recipes and cooking classes to help food bank clients incorporate these nutrition-rich vegetables into their diets.

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