It's estimated 350 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables go to waste in Minnesota each year

    The Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) has awarded Crookston-based North Country Food Bank (NCFB) with a $15,000 grant. This grant will fund NCFB’s new mobile produce drop service. This new service is intended to strengthen partnerships throughout the region and test creative strategies to distribute produce in new and effective ways.

    The high rates of poverty in northwest and west central Minnesota lead to high rates of hunger. According to Feeding America’s most recent Map the Meal Gap (a nationwide study of hunger), 11 percent of the people living within NCFB’s service area are food insecure. Based on the total population of the area, that means that 37,700 people are hungry on an ongoing basis.

    Persons served by NCFB are also disproportionately impacted by chronic health issues including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

    Currently, it’s estimated that more than 350 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables go to waste in Minnesota every year.

    While donations of non-perishable, shelf-stable foods have been decreasing, the availability of perishables from retailers, growers, and other sources has been increasing. Produce is a healthier and more high-quality option, but it also requires a higher skill level, knowledge of specialized techniques and processes, and an understanding of the related safety concerns. Handling produce donations require different types of infrastructure including vehicles, equipment, and storage space.

    NMF is excited to be a partner in this initiative, NCFB Executive Director Susie Novak said.

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