Oregon hazelnuts head to families in need

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — About 1,700 pounds of hazelnuts grown on a farm in Independence were put into food boxes at Marion-Polk Food Share on Monday to help families in need.

Salem Harvest volunteers collected the nuts last fall from young trees not yet productive enough to commercially harvest from. Oregon Hazelnut Industry donated the processing of the nuts and on Monday morning, they were bagged up and sent on their way to Oregon families.

Meaghan McGrath with AC Foods said, “So there’s always some left in the field, so to an extent, you can get it up and off the ground and into the hands of those who eat it — it’s great.”

These perfectly good hazelnuts would have been left in the field otherwise — or plowed under. A growing percentage of food found in a typical food box from the Marion-Polk Food Share are made up of locally-picked produce.

Boxed stable foods still make up part of the food boxes, but fresh produce from local farms is going into more boxes through the Oregon Food Bank system — thanks to those who volunteer their time.

“You don’t get the food without the farmer, you don’t get the food picked up from the ground without Salem Harvest, you don’t have food you can eat without the processor and then Marion-Polk Food Share gets to deliver that food to really beneficiary families,” Rick Gaupo with Marion-Polk Food Share told KOIN 6 News.

The food box has come a long way over the years. It’s now becoming a healthier menu option for thousands of food bank families that rely on the boxes for daily meals.