Take money being spent out of state, and redirect it to local farmers. Take fresh produce that nobody wants, and create a new market. Feed school children and food-insecure families. Create jobs.
Treasure Coast Food Bank is combining all those effort into a social enterprise program designed to benefit not only those in need but local private industry as well. The Florida Agriculture & Nourishment Collaborative will launch this August, with plans already underway to transform its former warehouse into a customized production facility.
The program involves 100 Florida farmers, 100 local schools, and 400 human service agencies who provide food to 100,000 low-income people in Indian River, Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. By processing, vacuum-sealing, and cold-storing the produce, the program extends its usable life, enabling many more agencies and individuals to access it.
“This program will decrease food waste and make nutritious food more readily available for those people with food insecurities,” Treasure Coast Food Bank CEO Judith Cruz says. “It will also be an economic driver for our local farmers, cut costs at our schools, and put people to work at the processing facility.”
Through the Collaborative, Treasure Coast Food Bank, using revenue it generates as a supplier of local school districts’ USDA Farm 2 School programs, will purchase and process millions of pounds of locally-grown produce that currently has no market. Treasure Coast Food Bank will then provide this healthy food through our programs to more than 100,000 people who experience food insecurity along the Treasure Coast.
“This public-private partnership invests revenue that otherwise would be spent out of town and pumps it into our local existing agricultural industry. It creates jobs here at home, and feeds people who have limited access to fresh produce,” Cruz explains. “It is the epitome of innovation within an existing established Treasure Coast industry.”
Opportunities exist for other businesses to take part in the Collaborative. To learn more and get involved, please call Treasure Coast Food Bank at 772-489-3034.