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Organic Consumers Association

Eating Organic Food Shouldn't Be a Luxury

  • She emphasizes healthy food when feeding the hungry
    By Julia Lyon
    The Salt Lake Tribune, November 11, 2008
    Straight to the Source

No matter who you are, Mercedes Zel-Pappas thinks you have a right to eat well. As director of "Feed the Poor," a Salt Lake City food bank, she is aiming to provide at least 50 percent organic food to the nonprofits they serve.  "Being healthy really shouldn't be a luxury," she said. 

When she took the job, the young mother noticed that a lot of the food being donated had a high fat content and wasn't what she would want to serve to her own children. So she sought out alternatives, scoring big with the businesses that supply grocery stores.

Organic cereals, pastas, juices, apples are among the items Feed the Poor now Mercedes Zel-Pappas, director of Feed The Poor, a local food bank, is encouraging more donations of healthier, organic foods. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)distributes to the women and children at the YWCA in Salt Lake City, the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America and other groups. 

Though she has begun to collaborate with organic farmers and gardeners, she wants to do more. 

"I feel that a lot of the food being given to the homeless and the needy is substandard," Zel-Pappas said. 

Founded about 10 years ago by John Papanikolas, a Utah businessman, Feed the Poor was inspired by a trip to Denver, where he saw charities caring for the hungry. Their good work stayed on his mind. 

"It just wouldn't go away," he said. "I'm a believer in God and a Christian; I felt it was coming from him." 

Although one of the lesser known food agencies, Feed the Poor continues to grow and nearly tripled the square footage of its Redwood Road warehouse in May. In 2007, the organization gave away over $1 million worth of food.

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