By Otto Solberg
Within the last few years, many food banks across the Southeast have started “Farm to Food Bank” programs to distribute misshapen or blemished produce from local farms to people in need.
“It is produce that might not sell in the retail space, but is still perfectly good,” says Abena Foreman-Trice, communications specialist with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Virginia.
Although 48 million people in America live in food-insecure households, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Many statewide and regional programs are incentivizing farmers to help. Kentucky farmers sell their produce to food banks for nearly full value. In 2015, 302 farmers contributed enough to fill half a plate with fruits and vegetables for 4,104,800 meals, and each farmer received an average of $1,570.
“One farmer said that all of the money they have made from the Farm to Food Bank program is going into a fund for their kids to go to college,” says Sarah Vaughn with the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.
In other states like North Carolina, farmers can receive tax breaks for donating produce that might otherwise be wasted.