Delmonte Foods, Silgan Containers Corporation and Plainfield Trucking cost-effectively processed, canned and transported the carrots donated by Paul Miller Farms, Hancock, to the Field to Foodbank program last year.
Crops go from Field to Foodbank to help end hunger
It's a fact of life for Wisconsin farmers…sometimes what we grow doesn't make it to someone's dinner table.
But what if there was a way to help people facing hunger with the tons of food left in the fields?
That's what is happening with the Field to Foodbank program, developed by the University of Wisconsin's Institute of Sustainable Agriculture and Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.
The program links farmers, processors, packing sheds and trucking companies in a supply chain that delivers fresh and processed vegetables to those facing hunger.
Through Field to Foodbank, farmers can support Second Harvest in two ways. They can arrange to donate product left behind in the fields, or farmers can specifically plant acreage to donate to Second Harvest.
Paul Miller Farms in Hancock set aside two acres of carrots for the program last year, but there was a problem. The 47 tons of carrots from those two acres was more fresh produce than Second Harvest could safely store and distribute through its distribution system before the product spoiled.
The solution was working with Delmonte Foods, Silgan Containers Corporation and Plainfield Trucking to cost-effectively process, can and transport the carrots. By canning, the shelf-life of the nutritious produce was extended by 18 months or more.
"We, along with Delmonte and Plainfield Trucking [and Silgan], all agreed that this was a worthwhile project," said Paul Miller. "We know that food is a priority item today with a majority of families that are really suffering because of what's happening in our economy. It is not a big deal as you don't have to donate a lot of tonnage or anything like that, but every little bit will help food pantries distribute some of our product throughout the state."
Program visionary, Jed Colquhoun, horticulture professor and director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Agriculture said, "If we could capture those carrots and put [them] into the food bank system, there could be a real opportunity to make a difference. We have the ability to combine the strengths of agriculture in Wisconsin with this unfortunate situation of growing hunger to come up with a solution."
To date, 350,000 pounds of carrots, potatoes, onions and apples have been distributed through Second Harvest's agencies to the tables of people struggling with hunger.
The Field to Foodbank program is looking to expand to include sweet corn and snap beans this year. Every donation through Field to Foodbank, no matter how large or small the farm, will make a difference.
Second Harvest Foodbank annually serves nearly 141,000 people (43 percent of whom are children under 18) through its 300 partner agencies in 16 southwestern Wisconsin counties.