Distributing farm produce to food banks

You're used to picking up food at the grocery store, but what happens to produce that doesn't make the grade?

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear passed the state-wide Farms to Food Banks program in 2014. Local farmers are paid for donating their less-than-appealing or excess produce to food banks. And ahead of the holiday weekend, food banks are in a mad dash to get all the produce out the door.
   
Moving, loading, sorting thousands of pounds of fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste, the Farms to Food Banks Program enlists the help of local food pantries to help distribute all the produce. Clay Black, the commodity and food banks coordinator, says the day can be physically exhausting.

"We've had to get a lot of agencies in and get it out," Black says.

It's rewarding to help local food pantries that never underestimate fresh produce. Necie Smith with Paducah Cooperative Ministries says whatever is in season helps families. 

"When the families are able to receive this with the other items they get, it's a real bonus for them," Smith says.

And although the produce may not be store ready, that doesn't mean it's not store quality. Much of it may be donated because the store has an excess amount or the item has a small deformity.

So, even though the pantries and warehouses are belly-deep in fruits and vegetables, they'll help fill the bellies of others.

Black says in a year they'll hand out 200,000 pounds of fresh food. The warehouse maintains about an 1 percent spoilage rate.

If you qualify with a food pantry, you qualify to take the produce home when it's available.

The Farms to Food Banks programs will even accept the extra fruits and vegetables from your home garden.

Click here for more information.

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