California produces over half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables yet millions of Californians don’t know where their next meal will come from. Farm to Family connects the state’s growers and packers with food banks to deliver fresh, nutritious food to families in need.
Produce is Picked Fresh in the Fields
It all starts in the fields. The California Association of Food Banks’ Farm to Family team is on the ground around the state. They find growers and packers with excess produce that isn’t right for market timing or might not meet marketplace standards for beauty, size or shape. This food is still nutritious and deserves to get out of the field to people who need it.
Fresh Produce is Sorted in the Packing House
In the packinghouses, product is separated into groups for grocery stores, Farm to Family or other secondary markets, like juice, cattlefeed or dollar stores. In many cases, the produce is donated to Farm to Family; 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.