The project was carried out by the California Association of Food Banks in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The goal was to work with California growers to obtain nutrient-dense, field-packed cull row crops for distribution to food banks and food insecure people. Cull row crops are ordinarily left behind in the field, either because they do not meet commercial standards or because fluctuating market conditions mean that harvesting a given field is not cost effective. Over the course of the project, CAFB increased its overall distribution of specialty crops including broccoli, cauliflower, and celery by 27%, from 90 million pounds to 115 million pounds annually.
CAFB worked with growers in California to educate them on the new markets for cull row crops, retrain workers harvesting product, and redesign mobile packing sheds in the fields. In addition, CAFB worked with food banks around the country to help them upgrade operations. These efforts enabled them to receive and distribute specialty crops and create new markets by introducing clients to specialty crops that are often not a regular part of their diet, either due to budgetary constraints, lack of availability, or unfamiliarity with the product.
Utilizing New Methods of Crop Harvesting to Introduce Nutrient-Dense Specialty Crops to Low Income Consumers chronicles the success of this project.