Farm to Family

Five million Californians report that they are unable to afford the food they need – including many seniors and working parents whose budgets for food are squeezed by the economic crisis. Families are increasingly turning to their local food banks, charities and congregations to helps make ends meet. At the same time, donations from manufacturers and retailers have dropped dramatically, leaving a massive gap between what families need and the food that food banks have available. This is where Farm to Family comes in. California produces more than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Farm to Family connects the state’s growers and packers with food banks to deliver fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to families in need. Click on the links below to learn more about Farm to Family.

Farm to Family Fact Sheet
How it Works
Videos about Farm to Family
Fruits and Vegetables Distributed by Farm to Family
Program Growth
How to Help
Food Bank Produce Distribution Guide
"Utilizing New Methods of Crop Harvesting to Introduce Nutrient Dense Special Crops to Low-Income Consumers"- FINAL REPORT, California Association of Food Banks & California Department of Food and Agriculture

How it Works

Produce is Picked in the Fields
It all starts in the fields. CAFB has a team on the ground around the state to find growers and packers with excess produce that might otherwise be dumped.

Fresh Produce is Sorted in the Packing House
In the packing houses, product that is not marketable is separated. In many cases, the produce is donated; in other cases, CAFB purchases the fruit and vegetables for pennies on the pound.

Farm to Family Moves Produce to Food Banks
The Farm to Family program ships about 50 truckloads per week to food banks around the state. Most product is shipped weekly during each season. CAFB organizes the logistics to encourage food banks in the same area to share truckloads of a single product. This allows CAFB to transport produce efficiently and to deliver to food banks that would otherwise not be able to access these fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food Banks Repackage the Fruits and Vegetables
The produce often arrives in plastic bins containing several hundred pounds of fruits and vegetables, or in 50 pound sacks. It takes thousands of volunteers at food banks to repackage the product before it is distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community agencies.

Community Agencies Distribute the Fruits and Vegetables
Food banks have many different ways in which they distribute the Farm to Family produce to low-income families. This can include Farmer’s Market-style distributions and mobile food pantries.

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Photos by Gary Maxworthy