Lance Barton recalled a Christmas party from some time ago when someone asked him to tell a story about his best Christmas ever.
“Frankly, I said ‘You know what? The best is yet to come.’”
And that’s what Barton, the executive director of the Northern Neck Food Bank (NNFB), is saying about his Warsaw-based organization.
“We’re still growing, expanding and perfecting and making this program more efficient and making it more and more client-centered,” said Barton. “And that’s the best part — we haven’t even seen the best years yet.”
Barton’s statement was one about an organization that has already been embraced by residents, volunteers and farmers across the region and quadrupled the total pounds of fruits and vegetables that it expected to distribute to nutrition-insecure people in just the first year of its produce program.
“We thought we would pull about 50,000 pounds of produce out of the field the first year and we pulled about 200,000,” said NNFB’s Carolyn Quinn. “Last year we were over 400,000 pounds so much that we fed the entire Northern Neck, and Middlesex County.
This year, the NNFB is including Essex County in its distribution area and aims to “glean” or pull from local fields 400,000 pounds of crops not taken to market by farmers that would feed clients in all six counties and perhaps the Richmond and Norfolk areas as well.
“We’re always looking for volunteer groups that are interested in going out for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning and helping us with that,” said Quinn. “It’s a pretty special program working with the farmers.”
Both Barton and Quinn noted the enthusiasm and support from the community for the food bank.
“We’ve got hardcore, committed volunteers right off the bat,” said Barton. “People that came the first couple weeks we were in operation are still coming, and that’s great! That’s the kind of volunteers you need.
“The wonderful thing about it is we’ve had people who…