Tons of donated apples = food bank applesauce

EUGENE, Ore. - Well, how about them apples?

Food for Lane County took possession Wednesday of 8,400 pounds of apples donated by King Estate Winery, which maintains a large apple orchard.

That's the first shipment: all told, the food bank hopes to take in 34,000 pounds of fruit - literally tons of apples.

The goal: make applesauce.

Food for Lane County managers got the idea after watching clients and families at their food pantries.

"We've seen it go off the shelves in our pantries when we do have applesauce," said Dawn Marie Woodward. "It's one of the early ones taken.

"We're going to be able to put together a low-sugar option that's going to be very popular for families, for kids," she said.

A year and a half ago as food donations dropped, Food for Lane County started making some high protein food products to fill the gap.

First there was lentil barley soup, then instant pinto beans.

"Our third project now will be the applesauce project to create 10,000 jars of unsweetened applesauce to put in our inventory this fall," said Deb McGeorge.

Volunteers picked the apples at King Estate.

Sweet Creek Foods in Veneta will make the applesauce once Food for Lane County collects the minimum 25,000 pounds.

A Portland-area jar company donated 34,000 jars for this project.

"The thing, too, is to take a fresh product that's natural and local and be able to make it shelf-stable," McGeorge said.

From start to finish, the applesauce will cost $1.79 per jar to produce.

Food for Lane County is still looking for more apples from area commercial and home orchards. Apples must be picked from the trees, Woodward said.