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Tri-State food bank working with local farms to provide food for local pantries

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VIENNA, Ill (WSIL) -- One in eight Americans go without meals due to lack of money, according to Feeding America.

A food bank is teaming with local farmers for a new location to provide fresh produce to those in need.

The Tri-State Food Bank, based in Indiana, opened an Illinois location to store a variety of food for their food bank network, which reaches 33 counties in parts of southern Illinois and Kentucky.

"Southern Illinois has the highest rate of food insecurity of all our 33 counties. Its like as high as 33% in Alexander County," Glenn Roberts, Executive Director of the Tri-State Food Bank.

The new hub, located in Johnson County, isn't for the public, but a way for local pantries to store much-needed produce.

"We wanted to have a place where we could store and distribute fresh produce and fresh perishable items. We took a leap of faith and we found this site. It's in the perfect location, the perfect size. We are very excited about the possibilities," said Roberts.

Not only will the Tri-State Food Bank serve those in need in the area, they are partnering with farms like Rendleman Orchards to give families fresh produce. They are thrilled about the investment the food bank is making in the region for several reasons.

"One of them being that there is so much food insecurity in our region and also as a farmer, we do have off-grade produce and this gives us an opportunity to go with that off-grade and do good at the same time," said Michelle Sirles the Vice President of Rendleman Orchards located in Alto Pass.

According to Michelle Sirles, the Vice President of Rendleman Orchards, the off-grade produce is the items that are great quality, but isn't sellable to supermarkets due to things like small blemishes.

"That's what we eat as the farm family. All of the number 2's thing we can't sell at that number one price," said Sirles.

Rendleman Orchards and the Tri-State Food Bank were connected by the Fowler-Bonan Foundation, which serves 16 counties in Southern Illinois.

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Denise Turner

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