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True Leaf Farms Takes Top Prize as Second Harvest’s Food Industry Donor of the Year

In a roomful of elected officials and non-profit agencies from all corners of Santa Cruz County, Second Harvest Food Bank revealed their choice for their 2019 Food Industry Donor of the Year: True Leaf Farms based in San Juan Bautista, California. The ceremony served as the lunch event for the Food Bank’s 14th annual Nutrition Summit on October 21st at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos.

Cesar Yee and Humberto Garcia of True Leaf Farms accepted the award as Second Harvest’s Food Donor of the Year and received recognition from elected officials.  They thanked the food bank for the recognition and said they didn’t realize “how popular” they would be at the event.  Garcia explained that True Leaf values quality produce and the ability of Second Harvest to quickly turn around donated product to the community.

True Leaf Farms moved to the Salinas Valley 10 years ago and since 2017 has donated 320,000 pounds of fresh produce, much of it organic, to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. The combined farming programs of the Gill and Church families is a year-round source of fresh sustainably-grown produce from the Salinas Valley and other regions around the state.

Wanting to donate shelf-stable produce beyond what was already going to market, New Leaf Farms began partnering with Second Harvest. With the ability to accept produce and distribute it through a countywide network of partners, Second Harvest can turn around the donated product quickly for distribution to families in Santa Cruz County who are then able to enjoy the fresh produce such as lettuce, celery, arugula, onions, and broccoli donated by True Leaf.

Their company philosophy is to help the community in multiple ways by making sure that people have access to healthy produce and by reducing food waste going to the landfill. Their company values of integrity, passion to be the best, humility and collaboration are exemplified by their frequent produce donations to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County and the Salinas Valley communities.

Brendan Miele, Deputy Director of Second Harvest, introduced True Leaf Farms.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s office sent a Certificate of Recognition while those in attendance to present Proclamations were Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, City of Watsonville Councilmember Rebecca Garcia, Scotts Valley Major Jack Dilles, Senator Bill Monning’s Representative Rachel Bickert, Assembly-member Robert Rivas’s representative Kayla Klauer, Assembly-member Mark Stone’s representative Laura Wishart, City of Capitola Councilmember Ed Bottorff, Jimmy Panetta’s representative Joshua Sellers, and Santa Cruz City Mayor Martine Watkins, who went a step further and proclaimed the day as the official True Leaf Farms Day.

The event was Second Harvest’s 14th annual Nutrition Summit and focused on Reducing Stigma and Redefining Food Insecurity offering Second Harvest’s 100 local partner agencies the opportunity to strengthen their networks and share ideas about how to reduce the stigma attached to receiving food assistance. Attendees had a chance to participate in a group share of ideas and attend a range of workshops.

For photos of the event, click here or email [email protected]. To learn more about Second Harvest Food Bank and its partner agencies and food industry donors, please visit