Salinas CA, to Bell, CA
By Olivia Groell July 20, 2020
How does 35,000 pounds of surplus cabbage in Salinas, CA wind up on the plates of food insecure families in the Los Angeles area? It takes considerable coordination, commitment, and cash to make it all happen. Between the fields and the plate are organizations like The FarmLink Project and Brighter Bites working behind the scenes to ensure the product gets to the right place at the right time.
For example, last week about 35,000 pounds of cabbage were transported from Taylor Farms in Salinas, California to Food Forward in Bell, California, a food rescue organization supplying fresh produce to hunger relief agencies across 8 counties in Southern California. The Director of Sourcing at Brighter Bites, Jennifer Boone, worked with Taylor Farms to secure the product, and partnered with The FarmLink Project to provide transportation to Food Forward. This delivery is the fourth load of produce that Brighter Bites and The FarmLink Project have been able to rescue from going to waste and find transport to a hunger relief organization in recent weeks.
Through a generous grant from the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund, Brighter Bites has implemented a program to support growers that have produce left in the field and connect that surplus produce to organizations across the country that are reaching people experiencing food insecurity. Brighter Bites has worked with the growers to understand their marginal costs associated with harvesting, packing, and cooling, and reimburses the grower for those costs in exchange for donated produce. By joining forces and sharing costs, Brighter Bites and The FarmLink Project are able to pool their resources to move more produce to areas of need, keeping acres of fresh product from being left to waste in the field. “I am really excited to see more people working in the food rescue space,” Jennifer said. “This is an area that is full of energetic people, passionately working to connect surplus supply with huge levels of demand, and there is so much more work to be done. I’m happy to be working with The FarmLink Project, because collaboration is a crucial piece of making sustainable impact in food rescue.”
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Brighter Bites served over 25,000 families nationwide enrolled in the program across 100 schools, with each family receiving 25 pounds of fresh produce and nutrition education on a weekly basis. Then Covid-19 hit, and, with schools closed, families lost access to this fresh produce they depended on for daily nourishment. Since then, Brighter Bites has been working with a number of organizations around the country to ensure immune-boosting fruits and vegetables find a home with those who need it most. In addition to this produce rescue project, Brighter Bites facilitates distributions of fresh produce to over 50,000 families per week through participation in the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
The FarmLink Project is enthusiastic to join groups like Brighter Bites in getting surplus food to Americans who need it.