The growing need
Americans are increasingly focused on our peas and carrots. From healthier school lunches to farmers markets, we as a nation are more conscious of the link between nutrition and health. That awareness is reflected in the evolving emergency hunger relief system. Second Harvest Heartland is working to collect and distribute more fresh and nutritious food than ever. Last year, we collected more than 5.9 million pounds of produce from over 50 different growers, and continue to expand our Retail Food Rescue program.
Second Harvest Heartland, and food banks across the country, are in conversation about how to best balance agency partners’ high volume needs for food of all kinds with an increased focus on fresh foods.
We go where the food is
Along with a network of generous partners, Second Harvest Heartland spent the last two harvest seasons successfully piloting ways to capture agricultural surplus in Minnesota—tapping into the more than 200 million pounds of corn, peas and potatoes that go unharvested every year due to weather and other issues.
The sweetest success so far has been our sweet corn rescue project. In collaboration with Hunger-Free Minnesota, Cargill, Seneca Foods, Pinnacle Foods Inc., General Mills, C.H. Robinson, SUPERVALU, other growers and a team of Feeding America food banks, 860,000 pounds of sweet corn were rescued and delivered to food banks in Minnesota and across the country.
That success led to a partnership with Feeding America to form the Second Harvest Heartland-based Produce Capture Institute (PCI) to share best practices across the Feeding America network to build agricultural surplus collection and distribution capacity.
An apple a day
When clients visit the VEAP Food Pantry in Bloomington, Minn., they appreciate receiving fresh produce, according to Nathan Rust, VEAP food program manager. “Many individuals tell us that if apples and other fresh produce items weren’t available at the food shelf they would simply have to go without as they have trouble affording them at the local stores. Many individuals that we serve deal with health issues and access to healthy fresh produce is essential for their nutritional needs,” says Rust. Second Harvest Heartland distributes food to VEAP.