Fresh Produce Program
What is the Fresh Produce Program
The Fresh Produce Program (FPP), formerly known as the Volunteer Gleaning Program, has operated as the produce recovery division of the San Antonio Food Bank since 1997. The FPP annually salvages and distributes between two to three million pounds of fresh and nutritious produce throughout the SAFB’s 16-county service area. The bulk of donated fruits and vegetables come from commercial packing sheds that collect produce from farmers. Significant poundage also stems from 150 acres planted and worked by trustees within two units of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Once the produce is washed, graded and weighed, it is made available free of charge to 380 agencies served by the SAFB.
How Does the Fresh Produce Program Get Free Produce?
San Antonio and the Food Bank are located just east of an agricultural production area known worldwide as the Texas Wintergarden. The SAFB’s Volunteer Gleaning Program is strategically headquartered deep within the Wintergarden in a reconditioned produce shed. When market prices, drought conditions, or other outside events convince farmers that a particular product should not be brought to market, the FPP receives a call to pick up or “glean” that product. Dedicated volunteers, often using their own pickup trucks and trailers, can always be counted upon
What is the SAFB’s Fresh Produce Program Shed?
This unique award-winning facility is one of only a few nationwide. While gleaned produce is often transported directly from the donor to SAFB agencies, many times fruits and vegetables must be chilled due to field heat, culled and sorted because of mechanical harvesting, or graded and boxed for shipments to needy families or member agencies. These activities are accomplished at the SAFB’s fully equipped produce shed in Pearsall, Texas. With only two paid employees, but with unlimited help from volunteers and prison trustees, the FPP salvages and distributes millions of pounds of nutritious produce for consumption by the poor.
How Can You Help?
As the Fresh Produce Program grows, funding is needed to operate the refrigerated trucks and pay the utility costs of the large cooler necessary for storing and transporting large quantities of perishable produce. The FPP needs volunteers for field gleaning as well as new farmers and shed owners who wish to donate.
How is the Food Bank funded?
Donations are received from local businesses, churches, foundations, corporations, government, civic groups and individuals. When you make a donation toward SAFB operating funds, your gift is used to acquire and distribute donated food, including the operation of our warehouse; utilities to run our huge freezers and coolers; and fuel and maintenance for our refrigerated trucks. A donation to the SAFB will ensure the stability of the Food Bank for years to come, at a time when the economy might not be strong and when the need for services is more in demand than ever before.
Seasonal Produce Recovered by the SAFB Fresh Produce Program