FRESNO, California (KSEE) – A new partnership announced Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom is designed to bring more fresh produce to the tables of Californians in need.
The goal of the partnership is to provide a critical link between food banks racing to fill empty shelves and farmers dealing with an excess of produce.
“Our farmers this year have gone through quite a shockwave like all of us have, but they’re working every day to continue the kind of bountiful nutritious productivity that is a hallmark of California,” said California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross.
With schools and restaurants closed, farmers across the state are dealing with a drop in demand, all while food banks are seeing a surge in need.
“The numbers are just astronomical. Over 25% of the clients that we’re serving also had never received Food Bank services before so there’s a lot of new people, people that never anticipated that they need help,” said the Central California Food Bank’s Kym Dildine.
Gov. Newsom announced the partnership to “address that mismatch” and connect farmers with food banks.
“To deliver nutritious food, high quality locally produced produce poultry and dairy, and the like, to those most in need,” said Newsom.
The program would provide farmers with federal subsidies and tax credits. The California Association of Food Banks would distribute the produce to banks around the state. Newsom said the goal is to deliver 21 million pounds of fresh produce on a monthly basis for the rest of the year.
“Locally, we’re very fortunate that the relationship is very strong between the Central California Food Bank and local agriculture, but this is going to help to apply some dollars to make sure that we get through this situation, both from an agriculture perspective, as well as a food bank perspective,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.
It’s a welcome idea for the Central California Food Bank which is dealing with their own challenges keeping their own shelves stocked.
“There are a lot of supply chain challenges, where a truck full of food might have taken us one or two weeks to get we’re now being pushed four to six weeks out,” said Ross.
Newsom said 128 farmers and ranchers in the state are currently on board with the partnership but there’s interest from approximately 200 more.