December is Farm to Food Bank Month, and a successful program in California is a model for similar programs around the nation. Sabrina Hill reports.
Farm to Family Program
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This time of year, the thoughts of many turn to helping our neighbors. In fact, donation drives for food banks spike during the holidays. But most well-meaning donors only give non-perishable items, which means the nation’s hungry are still left without healthy fresh fruits and vegetables on their plates. That’s where Farm to Food Bank programs come in.
Sue Sigler is the Executive Director of the California Association of Food Banks, which runs the nation’s leading Farm to Food Bank program, that they call Farm to Family.
Farmers around California donate to the program – surplus produce or produce that they can’t send to the store. As vegetable grower-shipper Mark Nickerson explains It’s still perfectly healthy to eat, but can be visually flawed or not the right size or otherwise not meeting the aesthetics US consumers want in their food.
Nickerson is Managing Partner of Prime Time International, which is a grower-shipper operation of mixed vegetables. For the past decade Nickerson and Prime Time International has donated produce to the Farm to Family Program.
He says donating the produce is the right thing to do, but points out it also helps the growers and businesses like his recoup some of the costs they have on produce that would otherwise go to waste.
California’s Farm to Family program is so successful it is now a model for other states.
Sigler says the California Association of Food Banks helps food banks in other states create similar programs that benefit not only the less fortunate in the community, but the farmers as well.
And if a food bank doesn’t have a program but would like to learn more, Sigler says they can contact the California Association of Food Banks and they’re happy to help.