Every year, small farmers throughout Indiana are forced to plow under thousands of pounds of unsold crops. Meanwhile, food banks struggle to find an affordable, reliable source of fresh fruits and vegetables that are not aged or wilting. Food Finders is always looking for ways to collaborate and build relationships with local farmers to distribute their unsold crops to our clients. It just makes sense for us to work together to find ways to reduce food waste while increasing access to fresh, nutritious produce. We have the distribution means to immediately turn the produce around for distribution through our 130+ agency and meal program partners, and through our Mobile Pantry Programs across 16 counties and our own food pantry.
The Waste Not, Want Not program, through Purdue Extension, Purdue Extension-Tippecanoe County, and Food Finders Food Bank Inc., connects farmers with surplus crops to the food bank in order to increase the availability of healthy food to local residents and reduce waste. Food Finders is truly thankful to Purdue University Extension and the Indiana Farmers Union for launching this program and working to build these partnerships.
While donated food is always our preference, through this program we hope to have funding to work with interested farmers to negotiate a price per pound that is agreeable for both the farmer and the food bank.
WHY IS PRODUCE IMPORTANT?
People struggling with hunger are often at higher risk for nutrition-related illnesses. According to Hunger in America 2014, 58 percent of the households we serve have at least one member with high blood pressure and 33 percent have at least one member with diabetes.* Our task is not only to provide meals for people in need but also to provide nutritious meals that can help improve health and well-being.
Fresh produce provides a tremendous opportunity to both feed people facing hunger and also offer nutrient-rich foods that can improve health outcomes. We know that an enormous amount of produce is wasted in the United States each year. In fact, 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are discarded on farms or left in fields to be plowed under, and that does not include produce lost at manufacturing and retail locations.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
In 2016, Food Finders Food Bank distributed 670,000 pounds of produce. This year we made it a priority to increase the percentage of produce we distribute and have seen a 103% increase in produce distribution over last year. Year to date, we have distributed 1,359,882 in 2017. But we still need help in making sure that people struggling with hunger continue to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Food Finders Food Bank is looking for farmers who are willing to donate unsold crops or who are even willing to work with us to plant out an extra acre or so, knowing that we will have the means to distribute it.
We are also seeking financial contributors who are interested in seeing this partnership between Food Finders and local farmers grow.
For more information on the Waste Not, Want Not program, including how to become involved as a producer or a financial contributor, email Food Finders Food Bank at email@example.com or call 765-471-0062.
“[Food banks] rarely have funds available to purchase fresh, high quality produce. By providing financial support through donations, Waste Not, Want Not will enable [Food Finders] to pay local diversified farmers a fair, sustainable price for fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste.” – Tamara Benjamin, assistant program leader and diversified agriculture specialist for Purdue Extension
“Without this additional support through the Waste Not, Want Not program, purchasing local produce would be cost prohibitive. We appreciate this opportunity to connect and work with local farmers.” – Katy Bunder, CEO Food Finders Food Bank