Food pantry gleaning programs are mutually beneficial for food pantries and farmers. It allows for produce that is unable to be sold, to be given to someone who needs it instead of going to a land fill. Like most people, many farmers do not know that some food pantries will take donations of fresh produce. That is why it is important to market the gleaning program to them.
Speaking directly to a farmer, whether that is on phone or in person is the best way to market an inaugural gleaning program. This gives the farmer the opportunity to ask specific questions about the food pantry like who the food is going to, if there are volunteers, what instructions will be given to volunteers while on the farmer’s property, and if the pantry has a way to transport the produce.
When asking in person, it is best to have handouts to give the farmer such as; a list of highly requested produce, information about the pantry, a copy of a gleaner waiver form, and a copy of the Bill Emerson Food Donation Act. All of this information allows the farmer to know that the pantry has done its research on gleaning programs and that there is no liability to the farmer for donating extra produce.
Other farmers the food pantry has engaged with are also a great way to market a new gleaning program. Many farmers are friends with other farmers in their area, and if they have a good relationship with one pantry, they are likely to tell their friends about. Another farmer’s reference is the best way to market a new gleaning program, especially if there are a ton of pantries and a limited amount of farms to glean from.
The most effective way Food for Others markets their gleaning program to Virginia farmers is by informing farmers of the Virginia Food Crop Donation Tax Credit, which allows Virginia farmers to receive up to $5, 000 in tax credits for donating produce that they grow to a food pantry. This is an excellent way to market a new gleaning program, because it allows the farmer to know that there is a monetary incentive to donating. Virginia is not the only state that offers a tax credit to farmers for donating fresh produce to pantries: Maryland, California, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, South Carolina, and West Virginia also have their own tax credit incentives for farmers who donate produce to a food pantry in their state. If the state your pantry is located in does not offer a state tax credit for farmers donating produce, the farmer will still receive a tax deduction for the donation.
Food for Others officially began feeding the hungry from its Merrifield site in 1995. Today food supply, storage and distribution activities are made possible by a network of active volunteers, supporting churches and organizations, grocery stores, farms, gardens, farmers markets, and retail food contributor in addition to the receiving community centers, soup kitchens, and food pantries who together are dedicated to feeding the hungry of Northern Virginia. Nine staff members are employed full time to handle operations at our warehouse. All officers and directors are volunteers who work without compensation. Volunteers staff the office and are responsible for program administration and fund raising.
Food for Others provides free food to those in need throughout Northern Virginia. We distribute food in 4 ways, through our emergency warehouse distributions, through our 17 neighborhood sites across Northern Virginia that occur on weeknights, through our 14 community partners, and through our weekend food program for children at 29 Fairfax County Schools. Across all programs we serve an average of 1,800 families per week. Currently, we are focusing on providing healthier foods to our clients because we know that poor nutrition can have lasting detrimental effects on our community.