In case you don’t know this about ACCFB yet, we want to make it clear: We LOVE produce. So much so that back in 2005 we were the first food bank in the country to stop distributing candy and soda by replacing that food with fresh produce.
Fast forward to 16 years later and we distributed almost 20 MILLION pounds of fresh produce last fiscal year from our East Oakland warehouse to organizations and individuals across Alameda County.
Let’s get technical! Fruits are the reproductive parts of a plants. You can probably think of the classics like apples, oranges, and melons but you should also include the less obvious members of the fruit family like tomatoes and chiles, which are usually grouped in with vegetables since they aren’t sweet.
One easy way to think about it: If you are eating produce with a seed then it is a FRUIT!
Fruits can be a considered sweet treats but they are also packed with nutrients and fiber – both key to a healthy diet. The most popular fruit in our warehouse this time of year are handheld fruits like apples, oranges and pears which are easy to eat on the go. In the coming months farms will begin harvesting refreshing summer favorites like melons and stone fruit* which are always the most in-demand items among our agency partners.
*What the heck is a stone fruit? A fruit with a pit! Just think of summertime favorites like cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches along with mangos and olives, too.
Vegetables, on the other hand, the edible non-reproductive parts of plants like leaves, branches and roots. Kitchen staples like potatoes, carrots, onions and greens are always in demand along with other root vegetables and leafy greens.
Alameda County, one of the most culturally and economic diverse communities in the state, is known for its rich and vibrant food culture so our sourcing team works hard to ensure our produce inventory is as diverse as the community we are part of. To that end we listen to our network of partners to make sure that we stock foods that folks want and need like Avocados*, Mustard Greens, Bok Choy, Chinese Eggplant* and Collard Greens.
*You’re right. These are fruits because they have seeds. We just wanted to make sure you were paying attention! 😉
So where does all this produce come from? Glad you asked!
The vast majority (about 74%) of our produce comes to us from the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) Farm to Family Program. They work directly with farms to secure excess produce from California fields and delivers it directly to Food Banks across the state. About 16% of produce in our warehouse is donated from local businesses Blue Apron, Fruit Guys, Hello Fresh, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Lucky’s, Safeway, Target, and Walmart. About 7% comes directly from the USDA. Last but certainly not least, we purchase about 1.6% of the produce we distribute. While that might be the smallest slide of our produce pie, it is very important. Most of the culturally appropriate foods we mentioned above are purchased directly on the open market so we can supplement what we’re getting through other channels and ensure that we have variety and quantity to meet demand.
Produce is a key ingredient to our mission.