Food banks struggle to find enough fresh produce
Hearken back to the times you’ve donated to a can drive, and you’ll probably remember scrounging in the pantry for a few spare cans of fruit cocktail, olives, and ravioli. But did you ever think to donate apples or celery? Shelf-stable foods are a crucial staple of a food bank’s supplies, but perishable items like bread, milk, and produce are equally important in the diet of its patrons. These can be difficult to source from the general public, and most programs supplement in-kind contributions of canned goods by purchasing produce from warehouses.
Solution: Gather fresh fruit from local residents’ landscaping trees
The Southern Arizona Community Food Bank tackles this problem by taking advantage of an abundant supply of fresh (and free) local produce – the fruit trees in local residents’ yards. “There are thousands of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees with citrus products that go to waste each year” says Michael McDonald, president and CEO of the food bank. Every year, McDonald issues a call to the public to donate the fruit from citrus trees in their yards. To participate, residents must pick the produce themselves and verify in person that the fruit is edible. In the past, they have received over 100,000 pounds of grapefruit, oranges, and lemons from local residents, which they can deliver to clients as fresh fruit, juice, or trade with food banks from other states for the other fresh staples they need.
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