For a decade, Zach Olah has owned and operated Fresh Produce of Palmyra, a store packed to the brim with a multitude of products. And like the sign says, the store prides itself on fresh produce.
Dozens of fruits and vegetables are for sale, among other products, as Olah has carved out a niche within the borough. But his newest endeavor with Fresh Produce has done a lot to help those in the community who are most needy.
“What I do for my store, aside from the local stuff in season, I’m down at the Philadelphia Wholesale Market at 4 to 5 a.m. buying my stuff for the store,” Olah explained of his efforts to provide fresh food for the needy in town.
“It’s a very big place, so they have a lot of nice stuff. They also have a lot of stuff that’s starting to go bad, and I see a lot of stuff getting thrown out.”
Renee Cappetta, a regular Fresh Produce customer and principal of the Guitar Guild in Palmyra, came to Olah about the Bread of Life food pantry connected with Epworth Church in the borough.
“After driving by the food pantry so often, seeing donation boxes and various numbers of things being donated, it only seemed right to help further strengthen the relationships between community members and organizations,” she noted.
The pantry serves hundreds of families a month who are unable to make ends meet, and upon hearing that, Olah jumped at the chance to help.
“I said, ‘Zach, what do you think? How can we get more fresh food to the pantry?'” Cappetta recalled. “He just went, ‘I’m on it,’ and then a week or two later, I get a text from him, ‘Alright, I’ve got a van full of food. What do I do with it?’ …
“Unbelievable. He just does it.”
Vendors at the Philadelphia Wholesale Market were immediately on board, and several weeks later, Olah had 40 or so boxes of fresh food sourced for the pantry. Donations more than doubled in the following months. Cappetta helped with the process, getting some volunteers together to unload everything from the van full of produce.
“… They (businesses) were willing to almost just give stuff away,” Olah recalled. “I went to a couple of the vendors, gave them an idea of what I was doing and at first, I was getting stuff for free. But then I started collecting money to get better quality stuff … That second time, we got about $250, and that went a long way.”
Donations – including to Olah – have continued and are still accepted, and Bread of Life has been beyond thankful for the store owner’s efforts to help people in Palmyra. Cappetta has also accepted donations on her own to help with the cause, something Olah hopes will help boost business as well as affect the community in a positive way.
“I have customers that come in, giving us some cash that I set aside to use for that next run,” he related. “We’ve seen continued support in cash donations … This food pantry, it’s been a good way to show our support in the town, and hopefully, something like this will help pick my business up.”