The demand is up as well as the organization works to distribute food for needy New Yorkers.
During the last fiscal year, which ends in June, produce wholesalers’ contributions helped the food bank distribute more than 17 million pounds of produce to hungry people.
This year, the operation, located close to the Hunts Point Terminal Market, remains on track to exceed that amount, said David Grossnickle, the food bank’s director of food sourcing.
“This year, we’re getting great donations,” Grossnickle said.
“Locally, people at the produce market and even outside the market, the local wholesalers and distributors, they’re really helping us out. We’re able to distribute something as perishable as produce really quickly and be able to find programs where they’ll use it just in time. The quicker we move, the faster we can get it to the people who need it.”
Produce constitutes about 20% of the food bank’s volume. The group helps provide 400,000 free meals a day to needy New Yorkers in all five boroughs by distributing food to the region’s food pantries and soup kitchens.
While the soup kitchens prepare meals on-site for needy New Yorkers, food pantries collect food and hand clients three- to four-day supplies of groceries.
Produce works well in both models, Grossnickle said.
“Produce is huge for our food bank only because of the nature of produce,” he said.
“It’s how nutritious it is. In some parts of the city, it’s difficult to get — if you can get it. And it’s expensive. That’s why we talk about food deserts.”
Through working with the market’s wholesalers, other area distributors and New York growers, the food bank supplies a variety of fresh produce to more than 1,000 soup kitchens and pantries just in the Bronx borough, Grossnickle said.
Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., and market co-chairman of the Hunts Point Terminal Market, said the market’s wholesalers are glad to support the food bank efforts.
“We are uniquely qualified to be able to donate in-kind goods and to the city harvest,” he said.
“Our market is the No. 1 place in America where oversupplied product is shipped. There are times when we have tremendous amounts of commodities here and the value falls precipitously. You want to donate to a food bank.”