(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A new venture in Downtown St. Joseph is putting fresh food where it is needed. The Crossing's Nutrition Center officially opened Thursday.
The Crossing Outreach is an organization in St. Joseph working to provide the homeless, veterans and ex-offenders a helping hand. The Nutrition Center is just the latest addition to the organization's Urban Campus.
Campus director Danny Gach said the goal of the center was to provide fresh and free produce in an area where none could be found.
Second Harvest stocks the center with food.
“We knew there was a food desert located in this area so it’s a really great opportunity to bring in another pantry partner in St. Joseph,” said Chad Higdon, CEO of Second Harvest. “As we transition from distributing food on-site at Second Harvest to pantries throughout the community, it’s really going to help us reach even more people in the community.”
The Nutrition Center is now one of 65 agencies stocked by Second Harvest.
Gach said the center is not just a grocery store. It offers classes too.
“We also wanted to focus on full nutrition so of course, we had to partner with Mosaic,” said Gach.
Donna Wilson, Community Health Liaison for Mosaic, also partnered with the Crossing to develop a curriculum about eating right.
“We are addressing the food desert issue here but some of the fresh produce here people say they don't like," Wilson said. "[It's] because they have never seen it or have never cooked with it.”
Wilson coordinates with the University of Missouri's extension office to staff the classes with teachers. The classes are scheduled twice a month and are free for anyone to attend.
Gach said classes will become more frequent after a commercial kitchen is installed.
“With the help of the community we are hoping that they will secure more funding to start building it early next year,” said Wilson.
The Crossing's Urban Campus is also working towards a job readiness program for kids.
“We are partnering with the Youth Alliance to help provide training for kids who want to get a job in a grocery store,” said Gach.
The Nutrition Center is located on 615 S. 7th St. and is open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To volunteer contact the Crossing Campus at 816-775-2221.