Agency Spotlight: Mission Market Promotes Healthier Eating for Their Clients

Catholic Charities Food Pantry, one of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s feeding partners, has undergone a makeover. When clients enter the food pantry at Catholic Charities, commonly referred to now as Mission Market, they are suddenly immersed into the bustling streets of a farmer’s market.

The new pantry promotes client choice, with fresh produce displayed in a warm and inviting way, showcasing all the colors of a rainbow. Clients can walk through the doors and see to their right hefty amounts of produce abundantly displayed, and to their left a tall shelf full of various grains. Health and nutrition education material, available in English and Spanish, are also on display.

This new pantry model promotes health and wellness for the clients served at Catholic Charities. Vision and support from Senior Director of Operations, Julie Yetter, and the tireless energy of their Food and Facilities Ministry Manager, John Bonfiglio, have made this transition not just possible, but successful.

Chef Terah Barrios, Nutrition Educator at Second Harvest Food Bank, has spoken with many clients while conducting food demonstrations at Catholic Charities. She said, “Many clients now feel they have access to fruits and vegetables to make full healthy meals and recreate recipes they see frequently. Clients I have spoken to are thrilled with the changes. One client in particular was overwhelmed with emotion when I encouraged her to fill her bag with fresh produce. She started to cry as she described her inability to buy enough fresh fruits and vegetables to cook her recipes with. She said she tried hard to cook all her meals from scratch, making them healthy, but that it was a struggle.”

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