JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — Food For Lane County is innovating new programs to feed the hungry.
About 250,000 pounds of lentils and barley is making its way to Oregon tables through Food For Lane County and the Oregon Food Bank Network. It’s all fresh, local and protein packed.
All the lentils are first sifted to remove dirt and other fine debris. Then it goes through a gravity machine to remove larger particles, like small rocks or husks. Finally it’s bagged.
Last fiscal year, Food for Lane County distributed 7.6 million pounds of food.
With the increase in the cost of meat, organizers looked for an alternate source of protein and turned to local farms. Six farmers in all, including Ken Kokkeler with Nixon Farms, are on board.
“I think it’s uniquely rewarding growing a crop that’s marketed directly to the end user. So you can see it through–the planting. The harvest and then as it’s actually sent to those who can use it most productively,” said Sarah and Ken Kokkeler of Nixon Farms.
Many of the contracted farms are changing their crops, switching from grass seed to lentils. The powerful little seed is part of the legume family. Half a cup of cooked lentils has about 8 grams of protein and it’s vegetarian.
After the lentils are clean, the next step is to package it with the barley and the soup mix. It will then be distributed to Food For Lane County to feed the hungry.