Potato & Produce Project
We salvage tractor-trailer loads of potatoes and other produce that are rejected by commercial markets or potato chip factories due to slight imperfections in size, shape, sugar content, or surface blemishes.
Usually, these rejected loads end up at local landfills. Through the Potato and Produce Project, the Society of St. Andrew is able to redirect these 43,000-pound loads of fresh, nutritious produce to food banks, soup kitchens, food pantries, low income housing areas, local churches, and other hunger agencies for distribution to the poor.
Because this produce is donated to us, the Society of St. Andrew pays only for the transportation and packaging of the food—an amazingly low 7.2 cents per pound! That means we can provide food to the nation’s hungry for about 2.4 cents per serving!
Why it Works
The Potato & Produce Project is successful and extremely cost-effective for two simple reasons:
First, the food we receive is donated. This food is not marketable for cosmetic reasons, but is perfectly edible. We do not buy the food we distribute. Our costs are for the transportation and packaging of the food we receive.
Second, we operate in conjunction with existing food distribution organizations, such as food banks. We avoid duplication of effort in order to gain efficiency and to cut costs.
The direct delivery of food to the needy through the Potato and Produce Project includes Produce Drops, where a tractor-trailer load of fruit or vegetables is delivered to a church parking lot or other location.
Volunteers then process the load by bagging the produce, if necessary, and delivering the food to local hunger relief agencies.
It is important to keep in mind that Produce Drops are not the norm for the Potato and Produce Project. The majority of food handled by the Potato and Produce Project is delivered directly to agencies. That is because most of the donated food we receive comes to us on relatively short notice and we deliver it to receiving agencies as economically as possible. For example, if a potato chip factory or a green bean packing house rejects a load of potatoes or green beans and donates it to us, it makes economic sense for us to try to find a place close by willing to receive the load rather than sending it to a food bank in a far-away state.
The purpose of a Produce Drop is primarily to help educate participants about hunger and the amount of perfectly edible food that goes to waste in America. It also is a good advocacy tool as it can help mobilize people to action.
Organizations and agencies interested in a produce drop – contact Marian Kelly, 800-333-4597.