This week marked the beginning of free produce at four locations throughout Park Rapids on Wednesdays.

Produce is delivered to blue tents located at the Hubbard County Food Shelf, Calvary Lutheran Church at the corner of Hwy. 71 and 2nd Street, the American Legion and St. John’s Lutheran Church. Deliveries begin at 10:15 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

The vegetables are ordered from the North Country Food Bank in Crookston at five cents per pound to cover the cost of delivery.

Food shelf director Bob Hansen said produce deliveries will continue until there is a heavy frost in September or October.

“I would guess, as we get into fall, we’ll be looking at apples, squash and pumpkins,” he said.

The first delivery of corn, cabbages and cucumbers went quickly.

People who are on the EBT/SNAP program can stretch their food dollars further with the free produce. Senior citizens who are on a fixed income or anyone in need of fresh healthy produce is welcome to participate, too.

“I stopped at a number of low-income housing units to let people know about the produce coming,” Hansen said. “We’re doing this to help young families and anyone else who can use it. I’m sure the word will spread the longer we have this going. I think it’s a good thing. Two of my volunteers who were manning it yesterday said that people were very appreciative of what we are doing.”

Hansen said he plans to have volunteers at the stands through mid-afternoon to assist customers.

“Yesterday, I was surprised,” he said. “It was the first time and I had ordered 300 pounds of corn per site, 200 pounds of cabbage and 150 pounds of cucumbers. I ended up with a couple of boxes of corn left, three or four boxes of cabbages and three boxes of cucumbers. Everything else was gone.”

The leftover produce from Wednesday’s delivery was brought to the food shelf to distribute Thursday. Donated produce from area gardeners may be brought to the food shelf, too.

“We would welcome it with open arms,” Hansen said.

“Everyone who is with the food shelf volunteers their time and that includes myself as director. We are always in need of donations of money to provide food to the clients. Not a single dollar of the donations goes to salaries. Last year, we spent over $127,000 on food and that was all supported by donations. Prices are going up. If I can’t get donations to cover it, I have to cut back on what we’re ordering.”

Donations may be sent to Hubbard County Food Shelf, 308 Pleasant Ave. S., Park Rapids, MN, 56470.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the food shelf or produce stands can call Hansen at 255-3538.