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      Grandmother of seven feeding family, thanks to community

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- There are always hungry mouths to feed in our local communities, and local food banks like Harvest Hope help those families get fed.

      A new partnership between Harvest Hope and Sustainable Midlands is working to make fresh produce available to the hungry.

      "I know I'm coming to get good food for the children," said Benay Jones, who houses and feeds seven grandchildren and helps out with great grandchildren.

      With her low income, Benay says she relies heavily on Harvest Hope, where her son has driven her to pick up groceries on this November morning.

      "If they stopped Harvest Hope at the end of the month, or even the middle of the month, I'd just have to go starving until I could get some food to eat," said Benay.

      Fresh produce is one item Harvest Hope tries to make available to the needy, and its new partnership with Sustainable Midlands is helping make that happen.

      "Fresh food obviously has more vitamins and has more micronutrients that are available," said Ryan Nevius, executive director at Sustainable Midlands.

      With produce prices going up during the winter months, some families just can't afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

      "We often have a lot of canned goods and we often have a lot of shelf-stable product, which is wonderful for them to have, but when we have fresh produce for them to get, particularly when it's out of season like it is right now, this is a great benefit," said Skot Garrick, communications manager at Harvest Hope Food Bank.

      With the help of Community donations, Harvest Hope and Sustainable Midlands are hoping to help many more families.

      "Our partnership with Harvest Hope will be online at our website -- -- and also at our Facebook page at Sustainable Midlands," said Nevius. "We'll have a link where they can go on and make a virtual donation online for cash-for-produce."

      Each dollar donated to Harvest Hope is enough to buy groceries for five meals so that Benay, and others who can't afford groceries, will be able to continue making fresh healthy meals.

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