Thousands of USDA “Farmers to Families” Food Boxes are Being Delivered
Thousands of USDA “Farmers to Families” Food Boxes are Being 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. White Pony Express, among the largest food rescue non-profit organizations in northern California, experienced this disruption in the food chain firsthand.
Fortunately, 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, two food distributors are shipping thousands of these food boxes to White Pony Express (WPE) for day-of distribution to homeless shelters, senior centers, churches, and schools serving low-income children and their families.
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.
Two food distributors, Vesta Foodservice of Hayward and CDS Distributing, located in South San Francisco, named White Pony Express as a nonprofit who would receive their food boxes. The Vesta food boxes include fruit, vegetables, butter, cheese, yogurt, and milk. The CDS boxes contain fresh carrots, romaine hearts, apples, oranges, potatoes, and onions.
WPE is incorporating these food boxes into its food rescue program to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the last 7 years, volunteer-powered WPE has been rescuing surplus food from supermarkets and food distributors and delivering it free of charge to agencies serving those with the greatest need. Since COVID-19 hit, and due to partnerships like these, WPE has been able to distribute three times as much food per day to feed the growing number of hungry people.
Diminishing supply, surging demand
“The food boxes from Vesta and 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 these two companies for reaching out to White Pony Express. We will lovingly deliver the food boxes from Vesta and CDS free of charge 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 was a dream come true when Vesta and CDS asked if White Pony Express would like to receive their food boxes. This has been a game-changer for us!”
Each week, White Pony Express is receiving about 36,000 lb. of food in the food boxes from Vesta and CDS combined.
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 almost 7 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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