Food banks have seen a persistent rise in the number of people they serve as well as a rising demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. Consequently, communities are using an array of farm-to-food bank (F2FB) strategies to increase the amount of fresh, healthy foods in the hunger relief system. Some agencies solicit donations through plant-a-row programs at local community gardens; some work with farmers to glean their fields after harvest; and others purchase directly from farmers. In some cases, hunger relief agencies are making efforts to do all three. The purpose of Growing Connections is to provide an overview of the range of F2FB strategies and to offer resources to launch or expand such efforts.
The rise of F2FB efforts is a response to several trends happening throughout the country:
To that end, Growing Connections has a three pronged approach to increasing fresh at food banks throughout the state. First, we seek to develop and distribute resources, workshops and trainings on F2FB programming that provides the tools and knowledge for the hunger response network and their communities to increase their F2FB initiatives. Secondly, we actively work on addressing capacity inefficiencies in the system in collaboration with other stakeholders. Lastly, we view F2FB programming as a circle which encompasses bringing fresh into the food bank, as well as, the layout of the food bank to promote fresh and, finally, to nutrition education with participants of food banks. This work is done in partnership with not only food banks and growers, but also other statewide partners and community members.