JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – One Salvation Army in Eastern North Carolina has a brand-new way to feed even more families ahead of the holidays. 

With the simple snip of a ribbon during a special ceremony on Friday, people in the Onslow County area will now have better access to healthy food going forward.  

9OYS had the chance to learn more about the Salvation Army of Jacksonville’s new hydroponic growing system. The system has actually helped them feed about 100 people so far. 

“It’s really beneficial for us to not just pass out like the chips and the cookies but to provide the fresh produce that’s so important,” said Social Service Program Manager for the Salvation Army of Jones and Onslow County, Laura Hagerman. 

The Salvation Army of Jacksonville was one of five food pantries awarded this grower through the Food Banks Healthy Pantry Program.  

“With food being one of our top priorities, we wanted to make sure that the food that we’re distributing is healthy. So that was where the big push for the grower came in,” said Hagerman. 

So, how does it all work? One worker said it can grow over 100 heads of lettuce without any soil, just water.  

“The roots have to be long enough to fit down here and get hit by the water that projects down because there are three holes for each panel. And each one is aimed at the food, so it all gets wet,” said Joesph Johnson, who works for the Salvation Army of Jacksonville. 

Right now, they’re growing lettuce and basil but hope to expand into other types of produce eventually.

“As we learn this process, we get a little better each time. So, we’re hoping to really get the process ironed out. So, we can offer this product maybe once every month to our clients is our goal,” said Hagerman. 

To read more about the salvation army and its impact in the area, click here.