Governor Gavin Newsom has announced plans to connect producers with food banks through expanding the Farm to Family program. The program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB). The goal is to help connect California’s farmers and ranchers to food banks to help fill the overwhelming demand that has been created by COVID-19.
“We have secured $2 million in USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding for CAFB to support harvesting, packing and shipping of donated specialty crop products,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a blog post. “In addition, the state Department of Social Services has more than $860,000 in USDA Farm to Food Bank dollars to the CAFB to further support the Farm to Family Program.”
The initiative is part of a $15 million campaign to enhance the program through the end of 2020. The increased funding support will help to facilitate the donation of more than 20 million pounds of fresh produce during the month of May. The Farm to Family Program provides an incentivized outlet for producers who are experiencing an oversupply of produce resulting from changes in market demand. “The funding we announced will support financial assistance of up-to 15 cents per pound on eligible California grown specialty crop products. You may also qualify for a 15 percent tax credit on donations,” Ross noted.
California farmers have already been working to meet the more than 70 percent increase in demand at food banks, donating more than 20 million pounds of food in April. California farmers and ranchers have been struggling to work through significant market disruption, where in some cases markets have decreased by half.
“It makes sense to redirect as much of the food orphaned by the economic shutdown as possible to food banks,” Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said in a press release. “Our growers recognize this and have more than doubled their donations of berries, baby carrots, grapes and other fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks up and down the state in March and April.”