Nonprofit organizations Feeding America and Feeding Texas have partnered with the Collaborative for Fresh Produce to tackle hunger and food waste in the U.S.’s southwest. Together, they aim to develop a regional model that can be scaled nationally, says the collaborative.
Feeding America will become the newest investor in the Collaborative for Fresh Produce beginning June 14, 2019. The collaborative comments that Feeding America’s investment will provide support as it hones a sustainable model meant to help the hungry. To see this model achieved, it plans to partner with commercial farmers and food banks. This way, it can efficiently collect donations of imperfect and surplus produce. It would then distribute this produce to families in need across Texas and across the southwest region.
“At Feeding America, we are regularly searching for innovative approaches to solve hunger and ensure that more people have access to fresh produce, crucial for a healthy lifestyle,” says Anne Swanson, vice president of fresh produce sourcing at Feeding America.
“We believe strongly in the potential of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce and, as a result, are very pleased to provide significant funding and resources to Feeding Texas to support the Collaborative’s great work.”
The history behind Collaborative for Fresh Produce
The Collaborative for Fresh Produce says it was founded to address two issues – the hunger epidemic and widespread food waste. It points out that one in eight Americans struggles with hunger. Still an estimated 20 billion pounds of edible fresh produce is wasted each year.
To tackle this issue, the Collaborative says it uses state-of-the-art technology and optimizes supply chain logistics. Thus, it can offer growers, shippers and wholesalers an outlet to address large-scale quantities of surplus produce. It notes that another advantage is that this allows it to provide a low-cost option to food banks. As a result, these food banks can source fresh produce for their communities.
The Collaborative’s donors fund these operations. In addition, food banks pay a US$.01 per pound processing fee, which also provides extra financial support.
In fiscal year 2019, the Collaborative for Fresh Produce says its anticipates distributing approximately 60 million pounds of fresh produce. This is thanks to more than 65 growers and shippers – mainly located in Texas – who donated this food.
More than 25 food banks in a six-state region will be able to access this produce. These states include Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Their food banks supply thousands of non-profit agencies and pantries serving millions of people struggling with hunger in their communities.
“We’re so pleased that Feeding America has recognized the Collaborative’s pioneering work and wants to take a leadership role in developing a national model for our country’s agricultural community and its nationwide network of food banks,” said Lyda Hill, of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the founding funder of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce.
“Our goal from the outset was to work in tandem with food banks across the nation to create a scalable model. And Feeding America is ideally positioned to do just that.”
A look at the partnership’s application
the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, in partnership with Feeding America, notes that it will take a supporting rather than a leading role in developing a national model. This way, it hopes to avoid confusion with donors and food banks.
It comments that it will continue to operate with a focus on the recovery of Texas-grown produce. Feeding Texas, the statewide network of Feeding America food banks in Texas, will support the Collaborative in developing the model and be its liaison to Feeding America.
“Feeding Texas was very honored to have piloted this program in Texas before spinning it off to become the Collaborative for Fresh Produce,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas.
“We are committed to sustaining the long-term health of the organization and are now proud to shepherd it into this growth phase.”