Food banks serve a need for many families and individuals across North America. They may provide relief for newcomers while they get established in a new country, for example, or help out parents facing unemployment to feed their children. According to Food Banks Canada, 13 per cent of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity, defined as not having “reliable access to adequate amounts of safe, good-quality, nutritious food.” In the U.S., the amount of food-insecure individuals is pretty much the same: 12.9 per cent of the total population in 2016, according to the organization Feeding America. This equates to more than 41 million Americans—more than the entire population of Canada alone!
Luckily, many organizations and food banks exist in both Canada and the U.S., providing numerous individuals and families with food in times of need. However, many believe that just having any kind food is not enough. The right food is necessary for individuals and families to receive proper nourishment that sustains their health for years to come. For that reason, many food banks prefer to have local and organic produce for those in need. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without synthetic pesticides—and for many that means a healthier option.
The demand for organic produce from food banks is there. The good news is there are farms, businesses, and organizations that choose to supply this demand by donating organic produce. Here’s a list of four businesses and organizations going above and beyond to bring the hungry healthy and organic food.
1. The Organically Grown Company, Lane County, Oregon
It’s likely safe to say the Organically Grown Company leads the way when it comes to donating fresh, organic produce to food banks and those in need. According to an article published in 2015, this organic food distributor, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, had donated 187 tonnes of “perfectly edible” organic produce to the Oregon Food Bank, Food for Lane County, and other gleaner organizations. Apart from fresh produce donations, the company also donates to other charitable causes that advance organic agriculture, education, environmental health, sustainability, and feeding the hungry.
2. Farm Fresh to You, Yolo County, California
Farm Fresh to You is an organic farm with a community-supported agriculture and home delivery service in California. The farm also offers a Donate-A-Box program to help families in need by allowing anyone to purchase a box of organic fruits and veggies for a food bank of their choice. The program has provided over 60,580 produce boxes to ten California food banks. The general public can also donate boxes. Their website is simple and easy to use, which likely contributes to the program’s success.
3. Feed It Forward, Toronto, Ontario
Set up like a food bank in many ways, Feed It Forward is Canada’s first pay-what-you-can grocery store, bakery, and coffee shop. Much of the produce donated to the store—including seasonal fruits and veggies of all kinds—is certified organic. The first-of-its-kind store was opened by Chef Jagger Gordon, a Toronto-based chef, caterer, and food activist. So far, Feed It Forward initiatives, which have included a pop-up kitchen and a feed families freezer program, have diverted more than 67,000 pounds of totally edible food from landfills. Now with a storefront, this number can only be expected to grow.
4. The PACT Urban Peace Program, Toronto, Ontario
The PACT Urban Peace Program is a charity dedicated to working with, supporting and empowering under-served, marginalized, and at-risk youth. One of their initiatives is their Grow-to-Learn gardens, which provides opportunities for schools and community members to learn about gardening. Surplus organic produce from the gardens is also donated to local food banks, used for culinary programs in the schools, or sold at local farmers’ markets with the proceeds going back into the program. Each year, the gardens produce an astounding 20,000+ pounds of organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
It doesn’t stop there! Other examples of organizations, farms, and business donating organic produce include:
- The Magnuson Park Community Garden in Seattle, Wisconsin: over 4,700 pounds of organic produce donated in 2015 to food banks and transitional housing programs
- The New Farm in Creemore, Ontario: over $250,000 (by January 2016) of organic produce donated to The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto, Ontario
- The Madisonville First Christian Church community garden in Madisonville, Kentucky: around 14,000 pounds of food to Christian Food Bank since 2015
It’s clear many farms, businesses, and organizations are on a mission to bring healthy, organic produce to those in need. Not only that, food banks and charities can source organic produce from those that grow or distribute it in different ways.
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