I was looking over some of our history as I begin think about planning our budget for 2020. Typing in that year — 2020 — seems kind of weird to me.

I remember concerns that all computers would crash at the end of 1999. That’s really weird. That also means we are now entering into a new decade. That seems too quick as well, but here we are.

More pressing, I am now entering into my fall season mentality. I work outside in the yard a lot throughout most of the entire year. It’s funny now that I think about it. I spend three months getting things to grow, four months trying to keep them alive and looking good, then two months cleaning it all up and putting things away and three months keeping winter cleaned up and getting things ready to start over again. I enjoy doing each part, knowing that Florida wouldn’t offer those same opportunities. The change of season has a ripple effect. It becomes harder to have enough daylight to get the grass cut after work before it gets too dark.

The change of season also affects the food we can access through our donation channels in the food industry. I remember several years ago getting many pallets of popcorn in 50-pound bags. Those opportunities aren’t around anymore, but that’s OK because it was hard to find a suitable home for them. I’m old enough to remember cooking popcorn in a pan on top of the stove, but as a kid, that was a rare treat around our house. I love microwave popcorn! Microwave popcorn is quick, easy, delicious and it comes in its own serving container. Don’t you wish everything was as straightforward as that? Food consumption habits change with the season and that brings back some items we haven’t seen for a while. As local homegrown tomatoes are winding down, new crop local apples are ready to harvest.

I recall about three years ago, one of the semi loads of donated food we received was a load of Honey Crisp apples. That same week, I happened to see a supermarket ad that featured Honey Crisp apples for $1.99 per pound. I visited a different supermarket that was selling Honey Crisp apples for $3.99 per pound. That load of apples we received had a consumer retail value of roughly over $100,000. That would be similar to receiving a donated semi load of ground beef. We were thrilled to get that load and got those delicious apples into the hands of struggling families very quickly. That was possibly the first time many low-income families would have tasted a Honey Crisp apple.

Three years ago we were experiencing a lot of growth with a new school initiative and some of those apples were being distributed to the families involved. At that time we were working with 12 schools in three counties. Now, that initiative has been branded The Big Idea and we are working with 35 schools in eight counties and more are in the future. All our conversations with potential donors, volunteers and school administrations have been positive from the first meetings and popping up all over our eight-county service area like that microwave popcorn I mentioned.

Our opportunities for this initiative are expanding all the time. If you don’t have this initiative already happening or being discussed at your school, start asking some questions. Honey Crisp apples could be coming on the next delivery.

Tim Kean is the president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. His column is published the third Sunday of each month in The Herald Bulletin.

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