California Food Banks now offering fresh produce to families in need with support from IFCO
Food banks provide a critical service in feeding the nation’s hungry, and today their work is even more vital in light of the severe economic downturn. In this time of need, the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) has just improved its capacity to supply its member food banks with fresh produce that is so critical to maintaining good health and often difficult for low-income families to afford or to access.
Thanks to participation from international logistics service provider IFCO SYSTEMS, CAFB is now providing fresh produce to food banks and people in need throughout California and beyond through its Farm to Family program. IFCO is subsidizing the use of its reusable plastic containers (RPCs) to growers for the transport of fresh produce to local food banks. The pilot program was launched with Ocean Mist Farms and Pacific International Marketing (Pacific).
In the program, the use of RPCs allows growers a cost-effect method of transporting donated fresh produce to food banks, finally making the valuable and nutritious produce available to low-income Americans. “Food banks across the country are desperate for fresh produce,” said CAFB Executive Director Sue Sigler. “The problem has been finding a way to harvest and transport donated produce that makes it affordable for growers.” By subsidizing participating growers’ use of its RPCs for this purpose, IFCO has solved this problem for the food banks.
“In low-income communities, fresh produce is unaffordable and often unavailable,” said Sigler. “Because of this, when we’re unable to provide produce through the food banks, people go without it. Providing the healthiest food possible to our state’s hungry is job number one for us, and the support of companies like IFCO, Ocean Mist and Pacific is critical to helping us achieve our goals.”
Food banks feed over 2 million people per year – and since the economic downturn began, that number has only grown. According to the CAFB, demand for food bank services jumped 30-50% in the summer of 2008 alone. “We need our food banks now more than ever,” said Fred Heptinstall, president and general manager of IFCO’s RPC Division. “The IFCO team is very pleased we are able to provide our service and support to such a worthy cause.”
How the program works: CAFB reimburses growers for the cost of harvesting the produce, and IFCO allows growers the use of its RPCs for packing and transportation, then retrieves empty RPCs from food bank locations after use at IFCO’s expense.
“Locally, Ocean Mist has supported Ag Against Hunger for many years.” said Art Barrientos, vice president of Harvesting for Ocean Mist Farms. “This new program allows us to expand both the ways and the number of food banks we can support throughout California.”
Dave Johnson, vice president of Pacific International Marketing, shares this enthusiasm. “We are thrilled to be working with CAFB to be the first in the industry to do concurrent harvesting. The quality, unused product that was previously left in the field is now being rescued and used in conjunction with this worthy cause. It is our pleasure and honor to work with CAFB on such an important program,” Johnson said.