FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6/30/2020
Contact: Sylvia Crum
Director of Communications and Development
Appalachian Sustainable Development collaborates with Paragon Foods to donate food to rural communities
BRISTOL, Va. – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), is partnering with Paragon Foods, a distributor of fresh and specialty foods to the restaurant and foodservice industry in Pennsylvania, to bring more than 108,000 pounds of nutritious produce to northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and WV in July. Paragon was awarded a contract for the USDA’s Farmers Feeding Families Food Box program which is aiming to purchase $3 billion dollars in domestic agricultural products for donation to those in need. Every two weeks in July, ASD’s Appalachian Harvest Food Hub truck drivers will travel to Pennsylvania and pick up 22 pallets of food (a full tractor-trailer load) which Paragon will donate to feed hungry families in the region. ASD’s partners in West Virginia will pick up 6 additional pallets to take to food pantries in the Preston County, WV area.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ASD has been focused on keeping farmers farming and keeping families fed. Over that last 3 months, ASD has coordinated the donation of over 147K pounds of produce to those in need in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and in parts of West Virginia. Donations have come from a variety of sources, including purchases made by ASD, donations made by farmers, rejected loads of produce (that ASD ensured were still good quality), and recently a load from the USDA Farmers Feeding Families Food Box program. ASD has donated watermelons, sweet potatoes, cabbage, apples, and recently, the food boxes which contain a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables.
Through the effort to feed families impacted by COVID-19, ASD has seen the best of humanity. Individually, ASD could not afford to get food to the many places it has gone. Collectively, however, partners within and outside the region are making it happen. ASD brings produce to the region in tractor-trailer loads and then the food pantries get produce into the hands of those in need. The dedicated volunteers who run the food banks and pantries in remote rural areas are passionate about feeding people. And they have come together to make it happen.
The work to feed people in the rural areas ASD serves isn’t done yet. There continues to be tremendous need and ASD plans do its part to bring fresh, healthy food to the region.
Kathlyn Terry Baker, ASD’s executive director comments, “We need people to speak up for rural. We all live here. We all know it takes longer to get to a more remote rural place, but that does not make it any less important to serve the people who live in our region. ASD is working with the USDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission and produce distributors to find ways to connect our farmers to the USDA’s food box program to ensure that boxes get to rural communities in Central Appalachia. Unfortunately, the region was not well-served in the first round of contracts. Using donations, ASD is covering the cost of picking up the load of USDA food boxes in Pennsylvania. We will continue to do that as long as we can afford to and have available trucking space while we strive to help the USDA expand its program to our region so more people can be served on a weekly basis.”
About Paragon Foods
Paragon is a distributor of fresh and specialty foods to the restaurant and foodservice industry in Western Pennsylvania. The company operates a newly constructed, 88,000 square foot distribution facility in Warrendale, PA, located 18 miles north of Pittsburgh. In addition to fresh produce, Paragon provides premium quality dairy, fresh meats and epicurean products to restaurants, hospitals, universities and K-12 schools, clubs and corporate dining clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia. Founded in 1962 by Joseph Bellin, Paragon is a third-generation, family owned company with a proven track record of more than 50 years. Elaine Bellin, Joe’s granddaughter and Paragon’s CEO, combines more than 30 years of business experience with the unique passion of a self-described “foodie”. For more information, visit: www.paragonfoods.com.
About the Appalachian Harvest Food Hub
Appalachian Harvest works with small and medium-scale produce farmers to give them access to markets for their products such as through grocery store chains. The food hub operates 2 tractor-trailers and one box truck which it uses to deliver loads to grocery store chain distribution centers across the Mid-Atlantic region. Since its launch is 2000, Appalachian Harvest has generated over $22 million for regional farmers.
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development celebrates its 25th year in 2020. ASD’s mission is to transition Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people to healthy food.
Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia. ASD’s reach has since expanded to include partners in eastern WV and KY and southeast Ohio. ASD uses six strategies to accomplish its work: education, increasing local food production, developing markets, increasing distribution of local agriculture products, engaging strategic partners, and researching/consulting and advising. ASD runs several programs, all focused on the food and ag sectors, including programs that help feed hungry people and others that build opportunities for farmers to succeed. For more information about ASD go to: https://asdevelop.org, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
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