Compensated Recovery of Surplus Produce from Local Farms by Food Banks
Most surplus produce is not made available for gleaning, food recovery, or nutrition assistance programs for the needy because of grower and processor concerns about liability, damage to fields, inadequate gleaning and pickup capabilities, timing, transportation, or other reasons. The ability of food banks to acquire this surplus for their distribution networks while it is still of market quality would be invaluable to the nutritional assistance efforts of many groups.
The long-range objective of this project is to establish a mechanism for obtaining excess production of market-quality fresh fruits and vegetables from farms and processors by reimbursing them for some harvesting, container or handling costs. An incentive for growers to participate will be that they will retain the option of selling this contracted excess elsewhere at market prices if demand should develop. But, if market demand is not sufficient, they may recover their harvesting costs by selling to the food bank at the negotiated rate.
Foodshare currently has an active fresh produce network with local donors. They include farms, wholesalers, distributors and farm markets that give excess, dated or culled products to the food bank for sorting. In addition, an active field gleaning program operates with volunteer civic groups to harvest at cooperating farms. While much is recovered and distributed, the unreliable quality and supply limits the establishment of fresh fruits and vegetables as a regular component in the diets of the clients served.
The project starting date was too late in the 2002 growing season to initiate a full-season program. However, growers were made aware of the impending program’s objectives by personal contacts, presentations at grower organization meetings, and through brochures distributed at meetings. A spring mailing is also planned. The food bank has secured a location at the Greater Hartford Regional Market for direct distribution of items recevied from terminal vendors; this facility will also be the central distribution point for surplus commodities obtained via this mechanism.
A questionnaire for determining harvesting, packaging and transportation costs for selected commodities by interviewing producers in the target area has been produced. Data collected will determine compensation to be paid to growers for harvesting and delivering large lots of excess production to the Food Share food bank for distribution to hunger programs. This data collection is in progress.
FRESH FOODS SPECIALIST
FOODSHARE OF GREATER HARTFORD
101 RESERVE ROAD
HARTFORD, CT 06114
Office Phone: 8602930648
SR, EXT. ASSOC.
DEPT. OF APPLIED ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT
456 WARREN HALL
ITHACA, NY 14853
Office Phone: 6072553688
575 8TH AVENUE, 4TH FLOOR
NEW YORK, NY 10018
Office Phone: 9173518700