Feeding America has awarded Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County the Mighty Apple award for receiving the largest percentage of produce to total receipts!
In fiscal year 2011/2012, we distributed 8,320,874 pounds of food, 62.3% were farm fresh vegetables. All of this food is distributed by our network of 200 agencies and programs to hungry people throughout Santa Cruz County.
“We’re honored to receive this award from Feeding America,” said Jackie Chuang, Food Resource & Distribution Manager at Second Harvest. “We are fortunate to live in a produce rich environment and to have such generous donors to provide fruits and vegetables to our agencies and clients.”
We purchase some produce for pennies per pound from local farmers, but a lot of it is donated. We find out what we will get and how much, when the truck pulls up to our loading dock.
For example, 13 pallets (13,922 lbs) of cauliflower from one of our largest local donors, 2008 Food Donor of the Year, Watsonville Coast Produce had just arrived when we spoke with Jackie about the award. For you history buffs out there, you may remember that a donation of 40 tons of frozen cauliflower served as the catalyst for forming a statewide network of food banks back in 1973.
The week before Labor Day, it was a shipment of organic heirloom tomatoes from Happy Boy Farms, our 2012 Food Donor of the Year. “Heirloom tomatoes are so delicious but a lot people aren’t familiar with them,” explained Jackie. “We cut some up and put them out for people to taste. Once they found out how good these tomatoes are, we had no problem getting them out the door.”
According to Jackie, there are times when produce is dropped off and no one in the warehouse even knows what it is. There may be a name on the label but that still doesn’t answer the question. Is it melon? Squash? “We just cut it open, taste it and go from there.” Yes, there are some perks to the job.
Our Nutrition Programs group visits the warehouse to see what has come in so they can develop recipes and nutrition curriculum based on what will be distributed at Passion For Produce sites. Check out their healthy and delicious recipes.
Congratulations to the Second Harvest operations team and to all of our ag partners. Together you are helping to build a strong and healthy community—from the ground up!