2023 Blessings summer “Feed the Kids” program was delicious

This summer, the Citrus County Blessings “Feed the Kids” program that provides fresh produce for families once a week through the summer months, was an especially delicious one.
As Blessings’ executive director Christina Reed explained, they used a new supplier, Chaney Brothers, which enabled them to choose the fresh produce items that they gave out to an average of 105 local families each Wednesday evening.
“In previous years, we just got pre-packaged boxes, but this year we got to pick what we wanted for our families, which was amazing,” Reed said.

Also, Blessings’ operation director, Rachelle Garrett-Butler, found recipes that used each week’s fruits and veggies, so the families could try new things.

“One week we had mangoes and onions, so she found a recipe for mango salsa,” Reed said, “and for the 4th of July she did ‘everything for a backyard barbecue,’ with potatoes for potato salad, and fresh corn.”
This summer families were also treated to strawberries and pineapple, along with the standard bananas, oranges and apples.
Blessings piloted the program at the Lakes Region Library seven years ago. In 2017, Feed the Kids served 13 families, about 50 participants, at one site in the county.
“We had a 13 percent increase in participants this year from last year,” Reed said, with seven pick-up sites around the county.
Although the summer program is primarily fresh produce only, Reed said they had the opportunity to give out some dry goods like boxes of mac and cheese and oatmeal and other items that had an end of August expiration date.