Walmart Foundation contributes $500,000 to expand and study nation’s largest produce recovery program


April 2nd, 2014

Oakland, CA – California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) has received $500,000 from the Walmart Foundation to expand, replicate and study Farm to Family, the nation’s largest produce recovery program.

“CAFB is truly grateful for this opportunity to grow Farm to Family to the next level,” said Sue Sigler, Executive Director of CAFB. “Over the next two years, we will be able to recruit enough agricultural donors to increase our distribution by 15 million pounds, provide robust support to other states seeking to establish and grow their own programs, and, for the first time ever, we’ll be able to provide the anti-hunger, agricultural and environmental communities with new knowledge on the sustainability benefits of our Farm to Family model.”

Farm to Family currently partners with 114 growers and packers to provide 140 million pounds of fresh produce annually to 40 California food banks, who distribute it for free to low-income Californians. This nutrient-dense produce plays a vital role in combating hunger and poor nutrition in a state where 1 in 6 adults and over 1 in 4 children are food insecure (source).

Despite this high rate of food insecurity, agricultural food waste in California remains a growing problem. According to USDA data, 6 billion pounds of agricultural crops deemed "unmarketable" are currently being wasted in the U.S. each year (source). Rather than being eaten, this food is discarded or left unharvested, contributing to food waste's position as the single greatest source of waste in the country, outstripping even paper, plastic, and metal in terms of volume entering the nation’s landfills (source). With half of the nation's agricultural production taking place in California, CAFB estimates that about three billion pounds of produce are being wasted each year in California alone.

With support from the Walmart Foundation, this multi-project grant will not only catalyze the expansion of Farm to Family in California, but also enable the successful replication of similar produce recovery programs in new states, resulting in improved health for low income people and a reduction of the agricultural industry's impact on the environment nationwide. It includes the following four components:

1. Outreach to Farmers: In 2013, Farm to Family diverted more than 140 million pounds of produce to food banks, or an estimated five percent of the total agricultural food waste being produced in California each year. While this number is significant, CAFB has long recognized that a large proportion of California’s 36,000 farmers and growers represent an untapped market. Support from the Walmart Foundation will enable CAFB to launch a large-scale donor recruitment effort to significantly increase produce donations.

2. An Out-of-State Replication Conference: CAFB will provide a formal, comprehensive program for out-of-state food banks looking to establish their own produce recovery programs.

3. An Environmental Impact Research Study: Given that food waste is a leading producer of methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide, CAFB will commission and publish a research study identifying the environmental benefits of the Farm to Family model. This research will contribute new knowledge on the sustainability benefits of produce recovery efforts.

4. An Agency Capacity Study: At the local level, CAFB will pilot a program to quantify the impact of increasing food pantries’ cold storage capacity on their ability to distribute more nutrient-dense produce to the clients in their community. “We are excited to partner with an organization that shares the Walmart Foundation’s commitment to sustainability and hunger relief,” said Robert Kenny, senior manager at the Walmart Foundation. “CAFB has been on the cutting edge of produce recovery efforts for the past decade. We look forward to seeing them expand Farm to Family in California, and beyond.”

To learn more about donating produce to Farm to Family, please contact Steve Linkhart, Director of Food Sourcing & Logistics, at stevelinkhart@cafoodbanks.org.

Press inquiries can be directed to Sue Sigler, Executive Director of CAFB, at sue@cafoodbanks.org.

More information about CAFB: The mission of California Association of Food Banks is to build a well-nourished California. To accomplish this mission, its membership of 40 food banks focuses on increasing the visibility of hunger and its solutions, assisting Californians in accessing food assistance and nutrition programs, distributing fresh produce through the Farm to Family program, and influencing public policy at the state and federal level.
Find out more at http://cafoodbanks.org/.

More information about the Walmart Foundation: In 2012, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions around the world. This includes $1 billion in cash and in-kind gifts in the United States and $82.2 million in cash and in-kind gifts in international markets. In addition, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Logistics associates volunteered more than 2.2 million hours, generating $18 million to U.S. nonprofits.
Find out more at http://foundation.walmart.com/.