So much food is wasted on a daily basis, and at the same time, there are so many in our Community who are going hungry, with Fresno recently ranking as the third highest food hardship metropolitan area in the United States. Fresno Metro Ministry is a community outreach organization that found a way to help bridge that gap.
The Food to Share van loads up food from a local Smart and Final that would normally go unsold. Fresno Metro Ministry executive director Keith Bergthold explains.
“This is stuff that would regularly be thrown away because they didn’t have the ability to get it to where they needed it. It was either close to being postdated or something like that. We’ve built relationships with them in ways where they’ll actually give it to us well in advance. This food is good for a long period of time after we get it,” said Keith.
Fresno Metro Ministry started the Food to Share program five years ago, with the goal of increasing access and availability to nutritious and healthy food for undeserved communities in Fresno County, at the same time, reducing food waste.
Keith added, “We did not realize how many billions of dollars and billions of pounds of food are being wasted every single year, millions of pounds here, and yet there are people going hungry.”
Keith said they work with retailers like Smart and Final, and local school districts like Fresno Unified and Central Unified, to pick up their unwanted food. Then, they deliver it to people in the community.
“It’s beautiful food. From the school district, you might be packaged apples, and pears or broccoli and cucumbers and things like that. It’s all packaged, it’s really low hanging fruit that would be thrown away, we pick it up, take it in totes,” said Keith.
LaToya Rowe is one of the residents who receives the boxes of fresh produce.
She said, “We had just moved in and after moving in, a lot of our expenses were low. And so they came with this beautiful box of fruits and vegetables.”
As a single mother, LaToya says the extra food is a huge help to feed her family.
“I love farmers markets, so I’m not able to get to those all the time. I normally work 10 hours out of the day, and so for me and my daughter to have that healthy part to our meal is a blessing,” said LaToya.
Community Medical Centers is a sponsor of the Food to Share program. Keith said it’s great to partner up so they can expand and continue feeding families in need.
Keith ended, “They’ve recognized that this program has the potential to scale and have more impact in our communities, and so they’ve decided to make some investments in us and we’re so proud to be able to work with Community Medical Centers to ramp this thing up.”