The Agriculture Department is kicking off a food drive inspired by a garden that gives all its produce to food banks.

The Director of the Central Missouri Food Banks says this food drive is great because it helps people out through the winter, not just during the holidays. Director Peggy Kirkpatrick says she knows the holidays are a giving time, but people need help all winter long.

She says this has been a year unlike any she’s seen in her 20 years working with the food bank, so any donation of any kind is helpful.

This food drive lasts all winter and into March. While this food drive seeks donations of fresh food items like fruits and vegetables grown in local gardens, non- perishable foods are welcome too.

She says often the food banks and pantries can get more out of a donation of a dollar than that dollar could buy at a store, because the food banks partner with food distributors and farmers. Kirkpatrick says while children are off school, this is a great time to bring them to a food bank to voulenteer and learn about helping others.

This idea came from a garden that participated in the Agriculture Department’s 10 thousand Gardens campaign. Sandy Parley of Columbia was one of those gardeners and she was chosen at random for a 500 dollar gift card to Tractor Supply Company to help her garden. That garden donated all its produce to a local food bank.

AUDIO Allison Blood reports. Mp3 [1:01]