The Georgia Mountain Food Bank recently began receiving about 20,000 pounds of fresh produce boxes weekly through the “Farmers to Families” Program. The food bank also has received large donations from Wayne Farms and through the efforts of Rep. Kacey Carpenter. Photo courtesy Forum Communications.

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank has received several large donations of food in recent weeks.

The bank was set to receive almost 20,000 pounds in fresh produce boxes per week for six weeks through the USDA’s “Farmers to Families” program. Produce is being provided by Tomato Thyme of Sarasota, Florida.

Wayne Farms was set to deliver more than 35,000 pounds of breaded chicken May 22.

And on Tuesday, District 4 Rep. Kacey Carpenter delivered 9,200 pounds of fresh broccoli, peppers and cucumbers to the food bank. Reps. Kevin Tanner and Lee Hawkins joined Carpenter to help unpack boxes at the food bank.

“It helps us keep the doors open,” said Georgia Mountain Food Bank operations director Steve Mueller of that donation. “We rely heavily on inbound food donations from a number of different sources. When we get a load of fresh from the farm produce like this, it’s fantastic. We can share that with the other 74 partner agencies in the community we serve to where they might not always get fresh from the farm produce.”

Carpenter has been making similar donations to nonprofit organizations around the state over the past week. The movement started with a produce box sale aimed at relieving some of the strain on the food supply chain that Carpenter hosted at Oakwood Cafe — the Dalton restaurant he owns — last Wednesday.

Local businesses helped Carpenter purchase 20,000 boxes of produce, but when he only sold about 14,000 boxes of food at the sale, he decided to distribute the rest to nonprofit food providers around the state. Carpenter said the Georgia Agribusiness Council and AgGeorgia Farm Credit helped to pay for the unsold boxes to be donated to nonprofit food providers.

“The food banks have just been super pumped,” Carpenter said. “Food banks don’t always get the finest produce. Usually they get it later on in its life. They don’t normally get it this fresh when it’s only been a week out of the field. So from that standpoint, they’ve just been tickled to death.”

In addition to Hall, Carpenter has donated food in Murray, Gordon and Pickens counties, and plans to make stops in Whitfield and Catoosa counties next.

He said that of all the nonprofit food providers he has visited so far, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank has been maybe the most efficient.

“We have a great system of food banks across north Georgia, and I think none is finer than what I saw today,” he said. “Kudos to the Hall County community for supporting that food bank, because it is a shining star. It is a real nice place.”