By: Kirsten Voinis
Public Relations Writer
So it should not have surprised me to see a Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN) booth among the tractors, packaging companies, growers and other vendors exhibiting at the recent Texas International Produce Association convention.
I visit my local food bank in Austin, Texas, once a month to pick up a shipment of food for a local nonprofit. Very rarely do I see produce at the warehouse. When I do, I assume it–like a lot of the packaged products–was donated by grocery stores cleaning out their inventory of unsold food or food near its expiration date.
In fact, the Texas Food Bank Network has been working since 2002 to grow (no pun intended) relationships with produce growers and distributors across the state in order to transfer more fresh produce directly from the farm and into the stomachs of the 3 million food insecure Texans who depend on the network’s 20 regional food banks and 3,600 partner agencies.
It’s a win-win. Needy Texans get fresh, nutritious food that helps combat not only hunger but also childhood obesity. Producers/growers have an outlet for their products that might otherwise become food waste (a national problem Charleston|Orwig is studying).
So far the TFBN has distributed more than 100 million pounds of fresh produce to hungry, needy Texans.
That sounds like a lot, and one reason the TFBN was at the convention was to show its support for and appreciation of the industry. But it also was there to educate–and perhaps recruit–unaware individuals and companies.
One example shared by the TFBN: a receiving company refused a shipment of 40,000 pounds of tomatoes solely because they were mislabeled. The distributor, needing to empty the truck, took them to the landfill. That’s food that could have been eaten instead of becoming food waste. And it cost the distributor a hefty disposal fee.
Food banks across our country are doing a tremendous job. If you haven’t ever visited your local food bank, you should–you can find the one closest to you here (http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx). What you see will surprise and amaze you, no matter how much you think you know about the food system.