Produce for the Poor

1261595230U Produce

About 1% of Ag Against Hunger's inventory is gleaned directly from fields by volunteers.

The organization Ag Against Hunger practices "produce recovery," distributing up to 150 million pounds of surplus fresh produce from California’s Salinas and Pajaro Valleys to surrounding food banks and pantries. These valleys are known as America’s "salad bowl," but crops there are often unsold due to price fluctuations, resulting in tons of vegetables and fruit piled in warehouses without a buyer and acres of nutritious goods plowed under.

Founded by a local grower, a food bank executive director and a farm bureau executive director, Ag Against Hunger now employs five full-time staff and over 400 volunteers. With three trucks, 5,000 square feet of cold storage and a network of 50 growers, the organization has the resources to redistribute fresh produce on a large scale.

One volunteer said that Ag Against Hunger was out to "change the world, one lettuce at a time." The food—including lettuce, beets, onions and citrus fruits—is first distributed to the three counties where the products are grown. The overflow then goes to other California locations and Western states, benefiting three million people annually.

About 1% of Ag Against Hunger’s inventory is gleaned directly from the fields by volunteers. Vast quantities of quality vegetables are tilled back into the soil every year due to cosmetic blemishes or low prices. Community volunteers are able to save the food—and prevent the needless waste.

The timing is critical. Social service agencies have experienced a 30% increase in demand since the recession hit. And Ag Against Hunger’s fresh produce is a healthy alternative to the canned, processed food that dominates food donations.

CONTACT: Ag Against Hunger,