Did you watch “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” growing up, or are your children catching old episodes online? Through his TV show, he taught children—and adults—the magic of kindness and generosity. He believed in treating everyone as a neighbor and caring for the most vulnerable people in our communities.

<p”>Like Fred Rogers, people in our community believe in being good neighbors and helping those who are the most vulnerable. Every year, local farmers with excess fruit share with local food banks. Last year, volunteers took that extra produce, canned it, and turned it into healthy food. The applesauce and pear sauce then was donated to Community Action Services and Food Bank. The effort was part of a pilot project from Utah State University.

“Thanks to the generosity of farmers and volunteers, last year we received hundreds of pounds of locally grown, commercially processed canned food,” said Karen McCandless, executive director at Community Action Services and Food Bank. “Once again this year, we have fruit growers lined up who are sharing what they have with people who are struggling to put food on the table.”

The Food Preservation and Hunger Relief Pilot Study is now in its second year and is looking for volunteers.

Last year’s success

In 2018, volunteers with the Green Urban Lunch Box picked apples and pears donated by area farmers. Using recipes developed by nutrition and food scientists at Utah State University in Logan, volunteers cooked and bottled the fruit in the commercial kitchen at the Provo Recreation Center. After two days of marathon canning, they had 203 pints—or 332 pounds—of sauces to donate to Community Action Services and Food Bank.

“It’s the best kind of good neighbor effort: Everything is donated, from fruit to volunteers’ time, and the end product is healthy food for people in need,” said Cathy Merrill, the Family & Consumer Sciences faculty for USU Extension in Utah County.

A grant from USU covers the project’s costs.

What we need now

This year, project organizers need canners to help make and can applesauce for people in need from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 and again Saturday, Sept. 14. Volunteers will cook and can applesauce in the commercial kitchen at the Provo Recreation Center. People can commit to the whole day, or only part of it.

If you’re interested in helping people in need and have some free time on Sept. 7 and 14, call or email to register. Make it a beautiful day in our neighborhood! Contact Cathy Merrill at cathy.merrill@usu.edu or call (801) 851-8479.