WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue University students who operate a small community farm are raising crops for local food banks to help feed students and local residents alike during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Purdue Student Farm usually sells its produce to Purdue food services, which serves those vegetables at the university’s dining service. But the student farm found itself without customers after on-campus classes were canceled and most students returned home amid the pandemic.
“We didn’t want to stop producing the food because we know there would be a need in the community,” said Steve Hallett, a horticulture and landscape architecture professor and adviser to the student farm.
Chris Adair, who manages the students who work at the farm, said they're currently harvesting spinach and bagging it for donation to the Food Finders Food Bank, which serves residents in the area, and Purdue’s own food bank.
He said four students are still working on the farm and more will join them later this spring to plant crops for the summer and fall and harvest them. The fresh produce will be donated to the food pantries until students return to campus and Purdue's dining services resumes purchasing the food.
“The plan with sales is to continue growing and donating until the markets open back up to us,” Adair told the Journal and Courier.
The fresh produce helps at the Food Finders Food Bank, said CEO Katy Bunder. She said demand for the food bank’s foods has increased since Indiana issued a stay-at-home order last month and people began losing their paychecks amid the economic downturn.