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KGUN 9 Tucson News

Local farmers play big role in providing healthy food to those facing hunger

By Kenny Darr,

2023-03-15
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Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has been serving southern Arizona for 47 years.

The local food bank distributed 336,710 emergency food boxes in 2022 and collected 614,221 pounds of food through food drives.

A large part of those efforts is thanks to local farmers who donate fresh produce to those in need.

"It’s amazing, the outreach of this community, when we opened that up to provide that food to the neighborhood," said Billy Shriver, one of seventy farmers who contribute to Community Food Bank.

Shriver is the co-owner of Merchant's Garden , an aquaponics garden. These gardens use the waste from farmed fish to grow fresh produce.

Born out of an idea during a 2015 New Year’s party with family, it wasn’t long before Shriver and his son, Chaz Shelton, turned the idea into a reality.

"We had an idea, and we had to make it happen, so that’s kind of how it all started," he said.

Across Arizona, one in nine people faces hunger, including nearly 270,000 children who lack access to adequate and healthy food.

Shriver said, "It’s so important to eat fresh food; it’s why we started this company."

It’s hard to imagine the impact community food banks might have if it weren’t for the support of local farmers, who overall contributed to more than 62 million pounds of food donated last year.

"A good day is [when] we’re providing health to our friends, neighborhoods, restaurants and grocery stores," Shriver said when asked what a successful day looks like.

In addition to donating to Community Food Bank, Shriver says they hold a drive-thru market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for those in need of fresh produce.

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Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9 . He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing kenny.darr@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook , Instagram or Twitter.

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