December marks the fourth annual Farm to Food Bank Month and there is no better time than the holiday season to commemorate the growing partnership between local producers and food banks that support individuals struggling with hunger.
Earlier this month, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary Karen Ross and Gov. Jerry Brown officially recognized December as Farm to Food Bank Month.
“I urge all Californians to recognize the contributions of California’s agricultural community, as well as the food banks and partner organizations they work with to provide nourishment to the most vulnerable among us,” wrote Brown.
Each Farm to Food Bank Month allows California farm families to give back to their community by serving those who would otherwise go hungry. According to Brown, farmers and ranchers throughout California are making contributions to prevent the spread of hunger, while also expanding access to better food.
CDFA hopes that their collaboration with the State Board of Food and Agriculture will help increase annual farm-to-food bank donations to 200 million pounds by next year.
Locally, United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock receives two pallets of fruits and vegetables each week from the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.
According to chief operations officer Maris Sturtevant, USF has received 17,451 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from the food bank in the month of November and approximately 200,000 pounds throughout the year.
“We love to give out fresh fruits and vegetables on our trucks and in our meals,” said Sturtevant. “It’s all about providing healthier meals for everybody.”
Through the produce received from Second Harvest Food Bank, USF is able fulfill its mission of providing assistance to people in need in Stanislaus County.
“I know that a lot of the people we serve do not have the availability to purchase fresh fruits for a number of reasons, including price, lack of variety, and lack of transportation,” said Sturtevant. “We like to give out stuff that they don’t have access to or maybe can’t afford.”