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Groups Take on Collaborative Approach to Fight Food Waste

Feeding America has become the newest investor in the Collaborative for Fresh Produce.

Feeding America, Feeding Texas and the Collaborative for Fresh Produce (Collaborative) announced a partnership to address hunger and food waste in the Southwest and develop a regional model that can be scaled nationally.

On June 14, Feeding America, through a grant to Feeding Texas, which launched the Collaborative in 2018, became the newest investor in the Collaborative for Fresh Produce. Feeding America’s investment supports the Collaborative as it hones a sustainable model to partner with commercial farmers and food banks to collect and distribute donations of imperfect and surplus produce to hungry families in Texas and across the Southwest region.

“At Feeding America, we are regularly searching for innovative approaches to solve hunger and ensure that more people have access to fresh produce, crucial for a healthy lifestyle,” said Anne Swanson, vice president of fresh produce sourcing at Feeding America, in a statement. “We believe strongly in the potential of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce and, as a result, are very pleased to provide significant funding and resources to Feeding Texas to support the Collaborative’s great work.”

The Collaborative for Fresh Produce was founded because one in eight Americans struggles with hunger, yet an estimated 20 billion pounds of edible fresh produce are wasted each year. To tackle this issue, the Collaborative uses state-of-the-art technology and optimizes supply chain logistics to offer growers, shippers and wholesalers an outlet to address large-scale quantities of surplus produce and to provide a low-cost option to food banks as they source fresh produce for their communities.

In fiscal year 2019, the Collaborative for Fresh Produce anticipates distributing approximately 60 million pounds of fresh produce donated by more than 65 growers and shippers, mainly located in Texas. Then, the produce will be accessed by more than 25 food banks in a six-state region: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. These food banks supply thousands of nonprofit agencies and pantries serving millions of people struggling with hunger in their communities.

“We’re so pleased that Feeding America has recognized the Collaborative’s pioneering work and wants to take a leadership role in developing a national model for our country’s agricultural community and its nationwide network of food banks,” said Lyda Hill of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the founding funder of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce in a statement. “Our goal from the outset was to work in tandem with food banks across the nation to create a scalable model, and Feeding America is ideally positioned to do just that.”

To avoid confusion with donors and food banks, the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, in partnership with Feeding America, will now take a supporting role rather than a leading role in developing a national model and will continue to operate with a focus on the recovery of Texas-grown produce. Feeding Texas, the statewide network of Feeding America food banks in Texas, will support the Collaborative in developing the model and be its liaison to Feeding America.

Due to these changes, Simon Powell, president and CEO, and Jim Farley, chief financial officer, of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce will step down from the day-to-day leadership and operations. Dale Long, the Collaborative’s former executive vice president of sourcing, has become interim executive director. Rhonda Sanders, CEO of the Arkansas Foodbank and board member of the Collaborative, led the transition efforts.

“We are delighted to see this effort gather this critical support from Feeding America,” said Jim Bildner, CEO of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and chairman of the board of the Collaborative, in a statement. “In addition, we would like to thank Simon and Jim who have been so instrumental in the formation of the Collaborative during this first year. Their dedication and passion to solve hunger and address food waste is to be applauded, and we are extremely grateful for their service.”

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