( Courtest Collaborative for Fresh Produce )

A new non-profit org is using technology to bring produce farmers and food banks together to reduce food waste, creating an easier way of donating surplus produce.

The Collaborative for Fresh Produce, Dallas, optimizes supply chain logistics to give growers, shippers and wholesalers a way to give them an easier way to donate it. At the same time, it gives food banks a way to cheaply source fresh produce, according to a news release.

“Our industry has an ongoing need to address imperfect and surplus produce as part of its business strategy,” Dante Galeazzi, president of the Texas International Produce Association, Mission, and board member of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, said in the release. “Offering this produce to the Collaborative is an ideal outlet to address this issue. Disposal, or dumping, costs can be eliminated and farmers can help fight hunger in the process.”

The program is paid for through a 1-cent per-pound processing fee paid by food banks.

Collaborative President and CEO Simon Powell said it’s a travesty that tons of food in the U.S. is thrown away while people go hungry.

“We recognized the travesty in this situation and created a sustainable model to gather and distribute edible produce, that otherwise would have been discarded, and put it into the hands of those struggling with hunger,” Powell said in the release.

The group estimates it will distribute about 60 million pounds of fresh produce from more than 65 growers in fiscal year 2019, according to the release, mostly in California and Texas. The produce will be distributed to more than 25 food banks in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. 

The group ultimately has a goal of distributing more than 150 million pounds of produce a year to most of the nation’s 200 food banks, according to the release.

“Solving hunger with better access to fresh produce will take far more than the occasional donation from a well-meaning donor,” Dan’I Mackey Almy, president of DMA Solutions and Collaborative board member, said in the release. “It’s going to take our entire agriculture community systematically changing the way it addresses imperfect and surplus produce.”

To learn more, contact Dale Long, executive vice president of the group, at [email protected] or 469-858-6190. Long and Powell will be at the Viva Fresh Produce Expo, April 25-27 in San Antonio. To set up a meeting, contact Long.