Project celebrates sweet success

By Darren Lum

Oct. 4 2016

This year’s Community Apple Sauce Project easily produced double the combined total of food the last two years.

As a result of harvesting apples the project produced 818 cups of applesauce which provides clients of the Meals on Wheels and SIRCH frozen meals some 1636 servings of fruit.

None of it would be possible without the local residents and dedicated volunteers who helped pick and transport the apples to the drop-off locations to be turned into sauce over two days.

SIRCH’s food initiatives co-ordinator Alisha Lafleur was blown away by the record success and said the ideal growing conditions led to a “bumper crop for apples.”

Lafleur said the applesauce could last until December depending on the demand.

Volunteers washed chopped cooked and processed the apples. Others picked and donated the fruit.

Eric Lilius donated use of his food mill. SIRCH Central gave access to the kitchen. Other supporters included Canoe FM Haliburton Foodland Todd’s Independent and Point in Time–Centre for Children Youth and Parents.

A photo of Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s dietitian Rosie Kadwell on the paper’s front page helped.

“I think the Echo’s promotion of the program on the front cover was effective. Many people on the streets approached me as a result of the photo” she wrote in an email.

Another factor was longevity she said.

Lafleur concurred: “Each year proves to be more successful. People really cross identify. That being said people hear about the applesauce project and that might be all they remember until they see a tree loaded to the ground with apples and think ‘hey I should give some of them to that apple project.’”

In 2014 there were 250 cups produced over one day and 268 last year.

The applesauce is more than a dessert for the recipients. It serves a dietary need and gives people access to fresh local food Kadwell said.

“The people that are receiving the applesauce are ones that normally do not have access to fresh local food. The benefit is they have access to fresh local apples that are delicious and packed full of nutrients” she said.

She referred to research conducted by a U-Links student in April 2014 called “Food Security: for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities in Haliburton” – “there is a strong demand for fresh fruits and vegetables for seniors and adults with disabilities and finances are a major barrier for both clients and providers to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Kadwell said this study found that only one per cent of the clients surveyed may be receiving the recommended servings of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

The Community Support Services Meals on Wheels co-ordinator Ida Schultz added her recipients don’t always have the physical ability to make applesauce.

“The Meals on Wheels clients do not have sometimes the physical ability to hold peel boil down and container applesauce” she wrote in an email. “This is a great treat suitable for diabetics and all tastes alike.”

Schultz adds each portion represents two servings of fruit. A U-links survey done in 2014 found “11 per cent of my clients do not have a fruit serving daily and only five per cent have four servings a day.”

The success of this project means more food for people over a longer period.

In the previous two years most of the sauce was distributed to the Meals on Wheels program but this year SIRCH will be able to share with its other partner organizations.

Lafleur and Kadwell said it is still early but efforts are underway to make more.

“Nothing has been set up yet but we have the right group of forward thinkers that are trying to develop more possibilities and produce the most we can with our resources” Lafleur said.

Kadwell wants to see the use of other fruits and vegetables or to use frozen fruits or past-prime or blemished produce from local grocers that would otherwise be thrown away.

This possibility for expansion to the project can help to address the greater need for fruits and vegetables when people need it during the winter and reduce waste.

“It would be fun to try apples and beets or pears and carrots. The bonus about making fruit sauces or purée is the produce does not need to blemish free. Many bruised or blemished fruit are discarded even though they are perfectly edible. This adds to our ever growing food waste” Kadwell said.

The project is a partnership between the Haliburton County FoodNet SIRCH  Community Services Haliburton Highlands Health Services Community Support Services Division municipality of Dysart HKPR District Health Unit and The Haliburton County Echo.