Six regional locations will provide fresh produce options to Feeding America's network of food banks.
One of the challenges of any donation-based food bank is trying to offer the healthy, fresh foods that hungry people need while also keeping enough nonperishable foods on hand to meet demands. To that end, Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization, has joined forces with one of the country's top retail chains, Target, to bolster its network of food banks with fresh produce.
Target has pledged $1.3 million to fund six regional produce cooperatives, each of which will distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks. The facilities will have the capacity both receive and store larger shipments of produce, allowing healthier options to be provided throughout the organization's many community-level operations at a lower cost.
"There are 42 million people in the U.S. who do not have access to enough nutritious food and are just trying to make ends meet," Feeding America CEO Diana Aviv said in a statement. "Our goal is to have fresh produce comprise half the food we distribute by 2025. In the past year, we have distributed more than a billion pounds of fruits and vegetables and with Target's commitment to support Regional Produce Cooperatives, we are moving closer toward that goal."
The first of these cooperatives opened in the summer of 2016 in Texas and has already shipped 14 million pounds of produce to regional food banks, according to a release from Feeding America. The other five regional locations all opened this year in Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Washington State, each acting as a hub to service a larger section of the country.
As a whole, Feeding America operates a network of over 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries or meal programs, which serve 46 million people annually, and aims to make a substantial dent in the country's perpetual problems surrounding food insecurity.