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ARTHUR -- Arthur Produce Auction and University of Illinois Extension have announced a partnership to help get more fresh produce to needy families during the summer produce season.

U of I Extension staff are already involved in nutrition education to the local communities. Extension works with local food pantries in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, and Shelby counties. Arthur Produce Auction has produce available for sale all season long at auctions held every Tuesday and Friday in Arthur. While the first auction of the season is scheduled for April 30, main season produce does not begin to ripen till early June.

U of I Extension staff will be present at most auctions during the produce season to receive donations of fresh produce from generous auction buyers or auction growers.

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“Sometimes buyers buy more than they really need, and we think if we can provide a good way to get it directly to someone who needs food, it will be a wonderful way to feed more families this summer,” said MaryBeth Massey, who is the SNAP Ed program coordinator for Unit 19 of U of I Extension. “Sometimes our growers have imperfect produce that is hardly worth selling but is still very good to eat, and they would be glad to give to a hungry family. If U of I Extension can help make the distribution simple and easy, this is a winning plan for everyone. We are excited to be able to keep good food from going to waste,” commented Sheldon Raber, the manager at Arthur Produce Auction.

If someone wants to make a financial gift, the Arthur Produce Auction will create a fund to use that money to purchase produce to donate to local food pantries. U of I Extension staff will deliver donated fruits and vegetables to the pantries so they can distribute the food.

For more information, talk to Extension staff at their table during an auction at Arthur Produce Auction this summer.

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