Iowa City Woman Answers HACAP's Call For Freshness

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa-- From the White House to local food banks, there is a push to get healthier food into the hands of Americans.

But, it is a challenge. Food banks are seeing higher demand and fewer donations, and what does come in the door is usually in a can.
But one Iowa City woman is planting the seed to healthier eating for Eastern Iowans.

Last month Sara Barker was watching KCRG-TV9 in the morning when she saw a story on how HACAP was going to the Cedar Rapids Farmer's Market trying to get more fresh produce donation.
Sara decided she wasn't just going to donate a few carrots or green beans, she was going to donate an entire garden.

For Sara Barker, this garden has become a labor of love. Located on a piece of her family farm that sat empty for years. Sara decided what better way to put it to use than to give back to her community.

"My dad always taught me to pay it forward that's what I wanted to do," said Barker.

Sara has planted corn, green beans, peas, potatoes and carrots for the HACAP food reservoir. When Sarah first contacted HACAP about her plans, they were speechless, it's the first partnership of it's kind for the organization.

"Our partner agencies are to ecstatic to get healthy fresh produce that's locally grown and something different than what's in a can," said Amanda Pieper, Director of HACAP Food Reservoir.

Sara hasn't done this alone, she recruited Martin's Yardsmart to help with the mowing and tilling.

"If I get the chance to help someone especially our local community I'm going to take that chance and do it," said Seth Martin, Owner of Martin's Yardsmart.

While this year has been a bit of a learning experience, Sara plans to grow her garden, to make it bigger and better.

"My 5- 10 year plan is to turn that barn into a green house, get better fencing up," said Barker.

Ensuring fresh produce for HACAP for years to come

The veggies should be ready for harvest around mid-september, weather permitting. If there are other gardeners out there who would like to help those in need, HACAP will gladly accept donations of fresh produce. They are at every Cedar Rapids Farmers Market or you can drop it off at the food reservoir in Hiawatha.
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