Guest blog post from Zach McGee, Hunger Awareness Coordinator at Florida Association of Food Banks:
Recently the Florida Association of Food Banks (FAFB) had the opportunity to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (SHCF) to grow and harvest nearly 700,000 pounds of turnips to feed the hungry. This partnership for growing and harvesting was the first of it kind for FAFB’s Farmers Feeding Florida program and is now another method for fighting hunger in Florida.
As hunger continues to be a persistent problem, food banks are finding and developing new sources of food to feed the hungry in their communities. Food banks are also focusing on increasing the availability of food with higher nutritional value, like fruits and vegetables. SHCF’s relationship with Long & Scott Farms is a model example of the huge resource growers and packers are to the vision of a hunger-free Florida.
Since Long & Scott Farms began partnering with SHFB, three things have really changed. First, the amount of produce being donated continues to increase. Second, the methods that are used for making donations have diversified. And third, the owner, Hank has become so excited about the positive impact his farm is making he is working to grow new opportunities for his farm to help out his neighbors in need.
Long & Scott Farms began donating by allowing gleaning volunteers from the Society of St. Andrew to rescue un-harvested produce from the field. It wasn’t long before the farm realized that much of the produce they could not send to market could also be repurposed to help feed their neighbors. From farming 1,200 acres, they are able to make frequent and substantial donations through most of the year. This year the farm offered a 20-acre field for the food bank to plant a crop. Realizing the potential to send food all over the state, SHCF partnered with FAFB to help fund the project and also relied on SoSA to help with the labor to harvest.
Although this project presented obstacles and challenges, it was a tremendous success. Seventeen truckloads of turnips were harvested to share and we were able to set a precedent for partnering with growers to plant and harvest food for Florida food banks.
This project will help us to demonstrate to other growers and packers that there are many successful methods which they can use to help us create a Hunger-Free Florida.
Photo album: I “Turnip” To Fight Hunger
Hunger Awareness Coordinator, Florida Association of Food Banks