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#MemberMonday: Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County

November 22, 2021

On Thursday, November 18, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County celebrated its first harvest of cabbage. Located in Irvine near the food bank’s offices and distribution center, the 45-acre “Harvest Solutions Farm” is a collaboration with Solutions for Urban Agriculture and the University of California South Coast Research and Extension Center. Solutions for Urban Agriculture is led by former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura.

Approximately 26,000 baby cabbage transplants were first planted in September.

Cabbage is an optimal vegetable crop for farming in Orange County as it can be grown year-round. It is packed with nutrition and can be used in many recipes (soup, kimchi, coleslaw, sauerkraut, tacos, and more) across various cultures, making it an ideal staple in households.

Growing food locally drastically cuts time to the dinner plate and delivers more health benefits because the produce is fresher when it reaches the community. The Farm also allows Second Harvest to mitigate challenges like pandemic-induced inflated food prices and supply chain disruptions, as well as limited harvests elsewhere.

Because it’s so close, the farm reduces environmental impact by greatly reducing the number of miles trucks drive to deliver ultra-fresh produce to Second Harvest’s distribution center. It also hearkens to Orange County’s agricultural roots!

Last year, to stay ahead of COVID-19’s impact on families, Second Harvest strengthened operations and paved the way for a new focus on pursuing planned nutrition based on consistent access to fresh protein, produce, and dairy.

From a big-picture perspective, steady, consistent nutrition not only tackles food insecurity—it supports building more resiliency for all ages.
Sara Bazant, Director of Marketing & Communications

“This produce is the beginning of a new era in food banking here in OC,” says Claudia Keller, Chief Mission Officer at Second Harvest. Today, the food bank’s work is centered on the connection between nutrition and poverty. With consistent access to nutrient-dense food, Orange County children and families are better positioned for success in school and at work.

We will be providing dignified, consistent access to nutritious, locally grown produce. This is what food banking is all about in the future. This is what will lift folks out of poverty.
Claudia Keller, Chief Mission Officer

Second Harvest is expecting a yield of 40,000 pounds of cabbage — each week! Once all 45 acres are fully planted, they are anticipated to yield up to 160,000 lbs. of produce per month. Now that harvesting has begun, Second Harvest is planning to recruit 150-200 volunteers weekly to assist with the Harvest Solutions Farm. The second planting in May 2022 will include zucchini, cucumber, and yellow squash. In the warmer months, Second Harvest will be growing corn and mini bell peppers.

Last fiscal year, Second Harvest distributed almost 60 million pounds of food through its network of partners — including houses of worship, schools, after-school programs, senior centers, shelters for the unhoused, soup kitchens, and transitional housing facilities — to those in need at hundreds of locations throughout Orange County: an average of 489,000 people per month.

We at CAFB are so excited to see this resourceful, community-driven solution in action, and it is an honor to have Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County as one of our members! You can find Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

All information, photos, and quotes courtesy Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

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