Students save fair veggies for charity

By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor

Tyler Hardesty, a student at Holy Cross High School, sorted through peppers exhibited in the Kentucky State Fair. He and classmates collected leftover food for charity on Monday, Aug. 27. (Record Photos by Marnie McAllister)

Nearly 70 families who struggle with hunger found respite earlier this week in some of the award-winning fruits and vegetables exhibited at the Kentucky State Fair.

The food, which wasn’t claimed by its growers by noon Monday, Aug. 27, was collected by a half-dozen young men from Holy Cross High School that afternoon. They sorted through rows and rows of tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, okra and a host of other fresh fare, weeding out those items already past their prime.

The students delivered the boxes to Southwest Community Ministries where it was distributed Monday and Tuesday to 67 families — some with as many as nine members, said Mary Wells, the charity’s senior services director.

“This was a great help, to be able to give them something fresh for a change,” Wells said. “We don’t get enough fruits and vegetables.”

Wells said the charity was grateful for the students’ efforts. “They did a fantastic job,” she added.

The students were organized by John Thompson, whose daughter graduated from Holy Cross last year. This is the second year he has gathered the leftover food at the fair for Southwest Community Ministries.

It’s an effort that he began, he said, because he wants to return the help he’s received. Thompson noted that he lost a job about 13 or 14 years ago and went to Southest Community Ministries for help.

After he rebounded, he said, “I decided I’d start giving back. So I started taking extra stuff from my garden.” When he discovered the potential for waste after the fair ends, he said he knew it could go to good use at the charity.

Thompson also happened to win the second-place prize for the heaviest pumpkin at the state fair. It weighed 947 pounds.

John Thompson, center, was helped by students from Holy Cross High School to take leftover produce from the fair to Southwest Community Ministries.
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