During harvest season, food banks trade surplus produce

donate your extra garden produce to a local food bank
[image credit: KTAR News]

Food banks have a tough time stocking a variety of fresh produce

Green beans, canned peaches, and ramen noodles dominate the list of food received from can drives, but what about lettuce, potatoes, and fresh oranges? Perishable goods can be purchased from wholesale outlets or other food banks, but harvest time is a boon for food pantries, as it provides a free glut of fresh, local food. But many may wonder what a food bank will do with just a truckload of corn.

Solution: trade surplus fruits and vegetables from local harvest

Go ahead and give a half ton of grapefruit to your food bank. No, local residents may not be able to live on just citrus, but there is a brisk trade in surplus produce between food banks. Normally, a large central chapter will truck and barter with other food banks from around the country to redistribute what they have.

“The key to us sending citrus to sister food banks all over the west coast is when they get their surplus harvests in – potatoes out of Idaho, apples out of Washington, peaches out of California, they reciprocate with that surplus,” said Terry Shannon, president of St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Anything that affects the harvest in one area can have a big impact around the country. For example, a 2011 outbreak of sweet orange scab in Phoenix affected only the rind of the fruit, but the ensuing quarantine meant that no food banks outside of the state were able to receive the fruit.

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  • Do you have a fruit tree or garden? Donate your surplus to a local food bank


Category: Hunger


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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