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New local, hunger-relief non-profit to feed the hungry with fresh produce

After the Harvest, a newly formed hunger-relief non-profit opened for business in Kansas City on Monday with a goal of providing 1.5 million pounds of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to feed hungry people in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area in Missouri and Kansas by the end of 2014.

After the Harvest – Healthy Food for Hungry People, is a locally-based organization incorporated in the state of Missouri that focuses on procuring fresh fruits and vegetables that are excess or graded-out, and distributing them to  area agencies that feed people in need.

With the help of volunteers, After the Harvest will work with local farmers and growers to their glean fields and orchards after they have been harvested, and distribute the resulting fresh produce to Harvesters and area agencies. After the Harvest will also work with large-volume produce packers and distributers to get truckloads of excess and graded out produce to distribute to area agencies that feed the hungry.

“As Harvesters works to feed hungry people, we place an emphasis on providing the healthiest food available, especially nutritious fresh produce,” said Harvesters’ President and CEO Valerie Nicholson-Watson. “We welcome After the Harvest as another source of fresh produce, which is much needed by our network of agencies and the hungry families they serve.”

Lisa Ousley, Executive Director of After the Harvest, said, “After the Harvest will focus on providing fresh fruits and vegetables for hungry people in our community. Poor nutrition is at the root of so many preventable illnesses today – diabetes, heart disease, obesity – and people struggling in poverty are disproportionately affected. Many of our community’s poorest citizens lack access to health-giving, nourishing fresh food, while at the same time we throw away more than enough food to feed each and every Kansas City resident every day. After the Harvest will access fresh, often locally grown, produce that’s not pretty enough to sell but still perfectly good to eat, and get it to Harvesters and its agencies to feed people who are going hungry.”

The leadership team for After the Harvest also includes Board Chair Sally Luck, Board Treasurer Mark Smith, Board Secretary Jim Merrill and Pro Bono Consultant Christina Martin. Program Director Karin Page will lead the program efforts of the organization. Ousley and Page were previously employed by the Society of St. Andrew, a national hunger-relief organization that gleans fields and orchards to feed people in need. Ousley opened the SoSA West office in Kansas City on May 15, 2008, and by May 15, 2014, the Kansas City office had provided more than 15 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks and agencies in states west of the Mississippi River. When asked why the board had formed to establish After the Harvest, Ousley said, “We want to focus our efforts on feeding hungry people in Missouri and Kansas. We believe we can be more effective and provide more, fresh nourishing food to hungry people in our area if we are locally based.”

The Board is committed to the mission of After the Harvest. Luck and Martin have a combined 52 years of experience in hunger-relief and have worked tirelessly to form this new nonprofit. Smith and Merrill have also invested time and energy in establishing the new 501C3 and building a strong foundation for After the Harvest. Of their determination to succeed, Luck said, “We feel certain that a strong local organization will be more efficient in serving the needs of hungry people in our region. We want to keep our donors’ dollars and volunteers’ efforts focused on Missouri and Kansas and to be as diverse and inclusive as possible.  The community has been so supportive of this wonderful mission and with that support, as well as the talents of the staff, we are positive this new organization will be a success. ”

After the Harvest is located at 3801 Topping Ave., Kansas City, MO 64129, with offices in the facility of Harvesters – the Community Food Network. For more information, call Lisa Ousley, Executive Director, at 816-921-1903 or 816-678-6991.

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