The Fresh Produce Preservation Project (FPPP), started in 2010, perfectly complements the Gathering’s mission to feed the hungry and to do so with respect and dignity. By increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in our meals, we increase the nutritional value and food options available to our guests. Over the past four years, the FPPP has continued to expand and improve. This year, we welcomed a new Fresh Produce Project Manager: UW-Milwaukee Conservation and Environmental Sciences student, Dora.
Dora’s environmental focus brought new recipes, new connections and new knowledge to the project. One notable new partner was Duane, from Compost Express. Duane brought us produce such as plums, apples, peaches, corn, onions, potatoes and more that was in good shape and would have otherwise been composted. In addition, Duane took all remaining compostable materials from the project so we could limit our waste.
We also continued partnerships with the Hunger Task Force Farm and the Witte’s Vegetable Farm, who once again donated the majority of the project’s produce. We received contributions of apples again this year from the Mequon Nature Preserve, and additional produce from the UWM Food and Garden Club. We are grateful for their continued contributions. Dr. Phillips from UW-Milwaukee (whose class partnered with us last year for our COOLBOT project) also remained a strong partner, continuing to bring classes to assist with the project. Special thanks again, to All Saints Cathedral for allowing us to use their space for our Coolbot.
As always, our mighty volunteer force made the project possible. With almost 70 volunteers, 23% returning and 77% new, there were plenty of hands on deck. New volunteers included Milwaukee Public School students, a service group from NEWaukee, and Marquette University volunteers among other individuals and groups. Volunteers chopped peppers, canned apple pie filling, picked potatoes, onions and carrots and went out of their way to put away as much produce as possible for use in our community meals. Already in winter of 2015 we have used frozen potatoes in dishes, mirepoix in soups and sauces, and greens and poblano peppers in casseroles. Not to mention the onions. Let’s just say, by the end of the produce season, we were all in tears.
Thanks again to everyone who made the project possible this year. We are proud of the work we do to contribute to health and sustainability in Milwaukee and we are looking forward to what next season will bring.
Check out these all-star volunteers who reached service milestones in 2014:
100+ Hours Volunteering with the FPPP Eileen Duffey - 105 total hours
30+ Hours Volunteering with the FPPP Jill Kortebein - 45 total hours Lisa Kortebein - 30 total hours
TOTAL PRODUCE PRESERVED 1964 lbs. frozen vegetables, 30 quarts apple pie filling
478 lbs of carrots, 400 lbs of corn, 384 lbs of potatoes, 300 lbs of onions, 140 lbs of poblano peppers, 123 lbs of bell peppers, 70 lbs of mirepoix (carrot, onion and celery mixture), 40 lbs of green beans, 29 lbs tomatoes