California Food Banks Aggressively Seek Slow-Grown, Nutritious Food

Food banks traditionally supplied with supermarket leftovers and corporate seconds are hurting as their usual providers cut corners and cut back. But in the pursuit of new donors and healthier options for pantry fare, food bank solicitors are turning to local farmers who have perfectly edible produce that's not fit for retail sale.

"The common wisdom in food banks for many years was that we need to give people adequate calories," Sue Sigler, executive director of the California Assn. of Food Banks said. "Now we know that we also need to give people healthy food."

All of these forces combined mean that food banks are becoming assertive shoppers. This year, Farm to Family, a program of the California Assn. of Food Banks, will secure 87 million pounds of seasonal produce, some donated but most of it purchased for pennies on the dollar, for 44 food banks all over California, said Ron Clark, the association's food sourcing and logistics manager.

"Ten years ago, food banks were much more passive," said Michael Flood, who runs the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, one of the largest food banks in the country. They took what they could get -- packaged food that might have been supermarket rejects or new products that failed.

To read the full article about how food banks are going local and serving better food by working with local producers, visit the Los Angeles Times.

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