The summer growing season is in full swing and many gardeners may have more home-grown produce than they know what to do with. If this is the case, bumper crops can be donated to the North Royalton Food Bank, says Terry Close, Director of Care and missions for Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, which houses the local food bank.
“Any time we can provide fresh produce to clients they are so very appreciative,” Close said. “It is a much healthier alternative to canned food. Many of our clients have health concerns, and it is difficult to eat healthy choices on a limited budget. From a donation perspective, the gardeners who have ‘bumper crops’ are so glad to share the fruits of their labor with others. It is a very personal gift from grower to client. We recently had an elementary-aged child ask if she could donate some of the zucchini she was growing at home. She was so proud to give us something she personally grew.”
Any home-grown produce is accepted, whether it is herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, yellow squash or the multitude of other items gardeners grow at home. Produce can be dropped at the church’s sanctuary entrance on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and noon. An attendant is always on-site to receive the donations. Donation times are specific to better accommodate those who utilize the food pantry.
“We would like the donations to go out to our clients as quickly as possible and we have the bulk of our clients coming on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This gives us time to sort and package donations for each family,” Close explained. “Also with the summer heat, we want to have someone available to receive the items and immediately get them into refrigeration.”
Close started the produce donation service years ago. In addition to personal produce donations from residents, members of the North Royalton Community Garden also donate shares to the food pantry, Close said. In a July 7, 2020, article published in the Royalton Recorder, North Royalton Community Garden Coordinator Dejana Cinquepalmi noted that hundreds of pounds of fresh produce have been donated over the years to seniors and those in need locally, through the Community Garden’s Garden Produce Donation Program. No matter how donations come in, the staff of the food pantry are always grateful.
“We have received wonderful and generous donations from the North Royalton Community Garden for several years. Occasionally, North Royalton residents with a garden will call us and ask to donate, which we love,” Close said.
Home-grown produce donations to the local food pantry help cover costs and expand offerings.
“Receiving fresh produce has become a very important part of what we make available to our clients,” Close said. “If we do not have donated fresh produce to distribute, we purchase produce weekly to include in our distribution to clients. If we can increase fresh produce donations, it will help us to reduce our overhead.”
There are other options to receive fresh produce as well, as through the year-round North Royalton Produce Market, Close added. In the summer months, distribution takes place the second Tuesday of each month from 2-3 p.m. at the York Road ball fields. The produce offered there is available to anyone residing in Cuyahoga County and comes by way of the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, she said.

Contributing Writer