December 3, 2013

Central Coast Farmers Give To Ag Against Hunger

As December is Farm to Foodbank Month, Lindsay Coate, Executive Director, Ag Against Hunger, posted TODAY that it is ironic that California produces the largest bounty of agricultural products consumed in the US, and yet, 4.7 million of our residents live in poverty and often don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

A solution to this problem was developed 24 years ago by farmers in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties when they realized that 20 percent of their product was going to waste. They collectively decided to create an agricultural nonprofit organization known today as Ag AgainstHunger to collect and distribute all of their surplus produce.

Ag Against Hunger’s primary function is to prevent the waste of fresh vegetables and fruit. Instead of disking full fields of produce or paying fees to get rid of harvested product, producers contact Ag Against Hunger to distribute the produce to food banks.

The Ag Against Hunger Program is simple:
  • We collect nutritious and fresh surplus vegetables, fruits and salads and from local growers and shippers.
  • We consolidate the surplus produce at our cooler.
  • We distribute the produce to food banks and non-profit agencies.
  • Food banks and agencies give the fresh produce at no cost to people in need.

Ag Against Hunger has started a new program with the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation, HELP, the Food Bank for Monterey County and Fresh from D'Vine in an effort to get more fresh and nutritious produce into local schools. The More Produce for Schools program provides students in Monterey County with a more balanced lunchtime meal that includes fresh produce. Currently, there are five school districts enrolled in the program: Salinas Union High School, Alisal Union, Greenfield, King City, and North Monterey County.

Gleaning session – photo courtesy of Ag Against Hunger
Ag Against Hunger's portion of the program is being funded by a matching grant from Wells Fargo Foundation. In order to receive this grant, Ag Against Hunger had to raise $25,000 in funds by the end of November. 

The Ag Against Hunger organization is still supported by its founding community of local farmers, which provides board members along with financial assistance and, of course, produce.  Since 1990, Ag Against Hunger has distributed over 212 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to help our local food bank partners across California.

December as Farm to Food Bank Month is an initiative by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks to double farm contributions to food banks by 2015.

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