Food bank enjoys increase in donated produce

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Local families in need will have nutritious options during the holidays thanks to the "Farm to Family" program.

The valley's wide variety of fresh produce was on display at the Fresno Community Food Bank. One-hundred growers throughout California have donated 150-million pounds of food to food banks. Fowler Packing offered boxes of "halos" and urged other farmers to donate. Fowler Packing CFO Jim Bates said, "We generate unfortunately a lot of product that doesn't make the marketplace sometimes for a mere cosmetic blemish. We want to take advantage of that. We want to do some good with it. We want to get it in the hands of the needy."

The Community Food Bank will deliver 40-million pounds of produce to over half a million people in the valley. Food Bank CEO Andy Souza said, "More sadly than that of those 550,000 over 200,000 of them are children. Let's never pretend kids love fresh produce because they do."

Some of the California grown produce can be exchanged with food banks in other states so families can enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables. State Ag Secretary Karen Ross said, "We're filling that need with stuff that's really nutritious for people. It's not just about calories to survive. It's about nutrition to thrive."

Ross appreciated the generosity of farmers who continue to give despite challenges dealing with a four-year drought. "Their mission is to feed people and finding ways to do it even when they don't have a market to put it into. To know that this is not going to waste. That it's going to families and it makes a difference in their lives."

It's estimated one in four children in California deal with food insecurity.
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