I just learned about the Field to Foodbank program of UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), which has been working with folks involved in all aspects of Wisconsin agribusiness and food processing to turn excess produce into supplies for area food banks.
I was a little surprised that no fresh vegetables are delivered to food banks—perishables get canned to avoid the need for refrigeration—but I guess this makes sense given the huge amounts of produce involved. As explained in this interview by Jed Colquhoun (professor of horticulture and director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Agriculture), delivering a fresh crop to a food bank “isn’t terribly realistic when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds of carrots,” for example.
He continues, describing the involvement of a variety of Wisconsin businesses: “I remember sitting in a coffee shop in central Wisconsin, watching the logistic chain develop to get snap beans and sweet corn to Second Harvest without my involvement at all. Somebody in the room lined up trucking and asked when they could get somebody else’s harvester over there. The processor asked when they could can that produce and how they could get it down to Second Harvest. So are they generous? Are they engaged? Very much so. And they’re asking how they can do more. They’re in business, yes. But they’re in the business of providing food.”