FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Community Harvest Food Bank is officially opening their new building Thursday. This new location will be used primarily to preserve fresh produce for distribution throughout the year. This is done through a process called blanching that preserves the food. The produce is cleaned, cut, steamed, chilled, and frozen. It will stay in a freezer set at negative ten degrees, which will keep it fresh for up to a year. This will allow Community Harvest to distribute fresh produce all year instead of canned produce. Until now, they have relied solely on donations to distribute fresh produce. Now they are buying produce from local farmers that they can preserve, in addition to accepting donations.
Community Harvest is the first regional food bank in America to have a blanching facility. They say they hope they can teach other food banks how to do this and potentially share their excess blanched produce with other food banks. They have already been able to blanch between 3000 and 4000 pounds of produce. They will mainly be working with carrots, green beans, potatoes, and corn. Last year Community Harvest gave out more than 12 million pounds of food across northeast Indiana. They feed over 20 thousand people every week.
The building was donated by the Azar family to Community Harvest in 2007. After they accepted the building, Community Harvest leaders came up with the idea to start blanching. They researched the process and began renovating the facility. The renovation cost $5.5 million and included 5 blanching machines from AccuTemps in New Haven, one of which was donated by the company.