Date: June 3, 2020
Contact: Steve Spraitzar
First USDA “Farmers to Families” Emergency Food Boxes Delivered to California Food Rescue Group
Just weeks ago, hundreds of tons of fresh produce were rotting in farmers’ fields due to COVID-19’s impact on the restaurant and hotel industries. Meanwhile millions of people without jobs were struggling to find food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quickly set up an emergency program called “Farmers to Families Food Box” to help farmers, food distributors, and hungry families. Now the Pleasant Hill based food rescue nonprofit White Pony Express (WPE) has received its first shipment of 560 boxes from the program. Each 20-pound box includes fresh carrots, romaine hearts, apples, oranges, potatoes, and onions. WPE will deliver the boxes free to community groups feeding those in need.
Under the USDA program, local and regional food distributors of farm products can submit bids to the USDA to assemble boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products. As part of their bid, they select a nonprofit serving people in need. Then, if awarded a contract, they deliver the food boxes to the nonprofit for distribution.
CDS Distributing, a produce distributor based in South San Francisco, named White Pony Express as one of its nonprofits of choice to receive food boxes. For over six years, WPE has been rescuing surplus food from supermarkets and food distributors, and delivering it free of charge to shelters, community centers, senior housing, and churches that feed the hungry.
Diminishing supply, surging demand
“The food boxes from CDS Distributing couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Eve Birge, Executive Director of White Pony Express. “Our food donations had plummeted, while the demand for food had skyrocketed due to COVID-19. We are so grateful to CDS for reaching out to White Pony Express. We will lovingly deliver the food boxes from CDS free to our community partners who will give them to those devastated by the pandemic.”
Pete Olsen, WPE’s School Pantry and Food Sourcing Manager says, “When I learned about the Farmers to Families program, I felt this would be the supplement we’d been looking for. It made my day when I received the call from Katie Flaherty at CDS Distributing asking if White Pony Express would like to receive their food boxes. This has been a game-changer for us!”
Flaherty handles sales at CDS and reports, “I did some research online and discovered White Pony Express. I was very impressed by the work they did and by the fact that they were chosen as the nonprofit of the year in 2018 for Senator Steve Glazer’s district.” She states, “I like that WPE is delivering to the smaller venues.”
The USDA food box program has also been a boon for farmers served by CDS as it opens a new market for their farm products helping replace income lost due to restaurant closures.
Recently CDS announced it will increase its deliveries to WPE for a total of 1400 food boxes or 28,000 pounds of fresh food per week.
About White Pony Express
WPE is a volunteer-powered 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Pleasant Hill, CA, that helps people move from the margins of society to the mainstream by delivering free food and clothing in a loving and respectful manner. Today its mission is carried out by close to 400 volunteers and a small staff.
Dr. Carol Weyland Conner founded WPE in 2013 when she was troubled that with such as an abundance of food, many thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Out of this insight, the Food Rescue Program was born.
In its six years, WPE has rescued and delivered more than 11.3 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food, free of charge that would otherwise have gone to waste. This is equivalent to 9,400,000 meals prepared.
In 2014 the White Pony General Store was added to provide high-quality clothing, toys, and books to the underserved in our communities—all free. Since that time, the General Store has given away over 500,000 items to those in need.
For more information on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org
To view recent press coverage, please visit: https://www.whiteponyexpress.org/press-news
For photos, please see our 2020 Media Kit:
2020 Electronic Press Kit
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