Compensated Recovery of Surplus Produce from Local Farms by Food Banks
- FOODSHARE was given a building in the Hartford Regional Market, and thousands of pounds of fresh produce are now donated to the organization every day by the over sixty commodity wholesalers that worked out of the Hartford Regional Market. Because of the massive increase in produce availability, FOODSHARE withdrew from the SARE program and returned 100% of their grant funds. Promotional brochures from the FOODSHARE program are available for information and program replication uses.
The resources were redirected to New York’s CITY HARVEST, which had expressed great interest in the developing program. For more than 20 years City Harvest has connected hungry people with good food that would otherwise go to waste – more than 20 million pounds of food last year alone. With this funding they are developing “New York State Produce For Life”, which represents the next step in pioneering cost-effective ways to work with farmers to get their product to market and sustain their businesses in uncertain economic times.
From the comprehensive data package of all phases of the harvesting – handling costs for fifteen fruits and vegetables of interest to gleaners and food banks produced by the Cornell-Ithaca Investigator, Cornell University has produced and issued a CD “Harvest Cost Assessment Worksheets For Fruits and Vegetables”.
Agriculture is a big industry in New York State, but it faces a number of alarming trends that could be countered by our initiative. Small and medium-sized family farms in New York struggled to remain profitable during the past several decades because of poor access to major markets; this would create an entirely new group of consumers for their products.
Harvesting and packaging costs that have already been invested in crops that did not sell would be recovered, plus additional employment for migrant and local seasonal workers would be provided and would contribute to the local economy.
Participants would also have the opportunity to grow commodity lots specifically for the program, eliminating some of the marketing, packaging, and distribution costs of the produce. Additionally, this could create a new revenue stream for their farm outside of their traditional channels.
The increased availability of fresh produce in hunger relief programs for both the urban and rural needy establishes eating habits and preferences for local commodities that are retained long after their dependence on these programs ends. Thus new customers are created.
A questionnaire/Excel program for determining harvesting, packaging and transportation costs for over fifteen target commodities by interviewing producers in the NY-CT area was devised and executed. These data were used as preliminary guidelines for compensation to be paid growers for harvesting and delivering large lots of excess production to food banks for distribution to hunger programs. There was some feeling among growers that although the data may reflect costs, they needed slightly higher compensation. Many donated the small amounts they had without compensation. The data base will be reflected in future negotiated price agreements that will also represent reasonable, acceptable compensation amounts. The availability of the interactive program on the Excel mode of the CD will allow any facet of the harvest routine to be individually examined.
City Harvest is building an economic bridge between the farmers and the hungry by creating a new, cost-beneficial secondary market model to harvest under-utilized local produce at fair, negotiated rates and deliver it to those most in need. Extensive contacts have been made in the upstate regions within range of City Harvest’s transportation fleet which is expected to play a pivital role by providing access to many city market venues not normally exploitable by independent upstate growers. This, in turn, is making fresh fruits and vegetables to populations and city sections that are traditionally underserved by the fresh market retailors.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The harvest cost assessment worksheets were developed to assist in the estimation of the fair costs that would be incurred by a producer in harvesting, cleaning, packing and preparing for shipment various produce commodities that were being collected by a hunger relief agency. It does not include any production or overhead costs, and presumes that the crop would otherwise be abandoned or destroyed if not being acquired for harvest cost compensation. If there are final field events that would be performed only when the crop was being reconsidered for harvest they should be noted. Such events could include defoliation, or storage protection applications, etc.
The Word Worksheets
These are Word documents that may be used for information purposes or reproduced as worksheets for general harvest cost estimations or other applications. The crop yield figures are representative of the northeast average; however, to assist with yield estimates, the Appendix contains additional average yield data tables courtesy of Stephen Reiners , Cornell University. Known deviations of specific unit quantities or costs can be incorporated for a specific study using your own cost estimation column.
The Excel Worksheets
These are Excel files corresponding to the above commodity Word documents: their use allows new data to be inserted in the tables for automatic recalculation of line items costs and/or total costs. As above, unchanged figures will serve as default values if the affects of variations in only one or two parameters are being investigated
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