On the Road: Farm to Family Conference day 1 & 2

| Comments

I have to admit that as someone who grew up in San Francisco, I had a bit of hometown pride to learn on the first day of the conference that the Farm to Family program originated at the San Francisco Food Bank.

Gary Maxworthy, who was on the board at the food bank at the time, talked about starting the program and its humble beginnings of distributing culls of stone fruits from Fowler Packing in 1998 to moving 140 million pounds in over 20 fresh produce categories in 2014.

Back in 1998, no food bank wanted fresh fruits or vegetables. Remember, food banks were built to move dry, shelf stable goods. Now, 15 years later, fresh fruits and vegetables are a must.

And it happened really quickly - together, as a network of food banks, we are distributing just a shade under 1 billion pounds of fresh produce.

Yes, that’s a billion with a "b" and it represents nearly a fifth of the total national output.   

On day two, we got to visit Fowler Packing, one of the original partners in the Farm to Family program. They grow, harvest, pack and ship throughout the country and the world nearly 70% of all of those Halo mandarin oranges that everybody loves.

We got to see their operations and learn how they make their culls for the Farm to Family program. The Halos that they are pulling for the food bank association have small, cosmetic blemishes or aren’t the right, uniform size for their specifications. 

You can see in the pictures in the gallery – those bins hold tons (literally) of Halos. If less than 1 percent in each bin is imperfect for the market but otherwise perfectly edible and nutritious, that’s a lot of Halos coming to the food bank.

I was left in awe of the scale of our food system. It is incredible.

Here's my obligatory "Unwrapped" style video of Halos heading toward packing:


Share this on social media


Join the Conversation