Local Farmers Feed Hungry Neighbors

December 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

About half of the 591 billion pounds of food produced in America each year is wasted.  Meanwhile, more than 50 million Americans are at risk of hunger.  That might mean going to bed hungry or having to make the choice to either buy food or keep the power on.  Being food insecure is painful, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The Capital Area Food Bank confronts the disparity between hunger and food waste in our community by organizing food pickups from local H-E-Bs, Walmarts, and other grocery stores.  Central Texas Food Rescue coordinator Jessie Curran explains, “Food Banks were founded on the model of matching excess food with hunger relief charities.  Most people understand that the problem of hunger in the US is not due to a shortage of food, but rather people in need not having access to it.  CAFB’s mission in running a Food Rescue program is to provide businesses with a way to reduce waste by donating unsalable, but edible food to the Food Bank.  This is a win-win for everyone; stores reduce their waste costs and increase their employee morale, and much needed food is distributed to people who need it.”

Bryan Bickham of Springfield Farm with CAFB Central Texas Food Rescue Coordinator, Jessie Curran

The program’s newest initiative, Market Harvest, picks up the unsold produce from farmers markets. Although farmers are vigilant about composting their unsold product, they are eager to participate in a program that connects their food to those in need.  The project is being piloted at the Sustainable Food Center’s farmers market at the Triangle on Wednesday evenings.  Participating farmers fill boxes with leftover kale, arugula, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, persimmons, and more which is then transported to a Food Bank Partner Agency (specifically soup kitchens) to be prepared the following morning.

SFC Farmers' Market

 

VISTA volunteer Catherine McKinney who builds capacity for CAFB programs Healthy Options for the Elderly (HOPE) and Kids Cafe comments, “People are always asking for fresh produce. In particular, our older adult clients are thrilled when they have the chance to cook fresh produce.”

According to a 2009 study by the Center for Disease Control, only 17 percent of low-income Texans consumed the recommended daily minimum of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables. This consumption is lower than any other income bracket. No wonder that data also shows a higher prevalence of chronic disease such as diabetes and poorer overall health in low-income Texans compared to those in higher income brackets.

Market Harvest participant Bryan Bickham and owner of Springfield Farm says, “We are so happy to give to people who care about people.  The last thing we like to see is food going to waste.”

The Capital Area Food Bank sincerely thanks the Sustainable Food Center and the following local farmers for their partnership in helping nourish our neighbors in need:

Engel Farms

Harvest Time Farm Stand

Lightsey Farms

Milagro Farms

Ottmer’s Family Farm

Springfield Farm

Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Hillside Farms

If you are interested in being a Market Harvest volunteer please email Volunteer Resources Coordinator, Amelia Long, at amelialong@austinfoodbank.org or call 512-684-2551. Click here to view a description of this volunteer position.

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