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Chef Uses Unsold Food to Aid Needy

Chef Paul Byron sees a golden opportunity in the Westport Farmers' Market. They give him some of the produce left over at the end of each Thursday, and he uses it to feed Fairfield County's neediest residents.

"We're trying to get as much fresh produce for these working poor and homeless people as we possibly can, so they can start having a better quality of life," said Byron.

Byron uses fresh and natural ingredients to prepare nutritious foods. He has kitchens around Bridgeport and a mobile set-up he can take around the county. There he teaches people not just how to eat healthier, but how to cook with the same ingredients he uses. "They don't often have access to things like fresh basil, so I show them what they can do with it."

Fresh produce doesn't keep long, so Byron allows food pantry and shelter visitors access to what he doesn't use. He said, "These working poor, sometimes it is a choice of 'Do I eat well, or do I pay to keep the lights on?'"

Byron said the number of people in need of help with food, clothing and housing in the region is staggering. Last month his kitchens served 51,000 meals.

May 27 marked the first day of the Westport's market, complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Lori Cochran, the Farmers Market's new head, said she couldn't have asked for a better opening day turnout. The only thing she would change, would be adding more sponsors to the event. She said the merchants were happy to contribute to Byron's work.

The Westport Farmers' Market takes place on Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Imperial Avenue Lot, next to the Woman's Club. Donations of non-perishable goods can be made directly to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission at the Westport Farmers' Market.

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