The Farm to Food Bank project recently published six case studies of their work with farmers during the 2022 growing season. Each case study includes a summary of the project, as well as lessons learned.
The case studies highlight projects with:
- Farmers markets
- Gibbs Family Farms
- Partners in Produce – Arthur Produce Auction
- Rendleman Orchards
- Roth Countryside Produce
- Sam the Sweet Corn Man Farm
During the 2022 growing season, these six partners delivered over 975,000 pounds of surplus and off-grade fresh produce to food banks and pantries throughout Illinois.
- Getting an early, off-season start with farmers markets and growers is essential. It allows farmers markets to introduce the program when growers aren’t as busy. It also allows food banks, food pantries, and growers to have conversations about what crops to plant, especially in areas of the state where the communities are diverse and may have preferences for specific types of produce.
- Using reusable plastic crates prevents both packaging and food waste.
- Growers can champion the program and recruit other growers.
- Farmers can be aggregators. Having one farmer handle communications on behalf of several growers makes it easier for food banks to coordinate delivery and receive a variety of products.
- Pairing farmers new to growing specialty crops with more experienced growers may help overcome challenges to participation.
- Matching up harvest schedules with food bank pick-up schedules is essential.
- When partnering growers directly with food pantries, additional considerations include:
- how close in proximity they are to each other.
- ensuring that food delivery and distribution schedules are in synch.
- relying on food pantries to pick up at the farm presents challenges. Pantries often do not have adequate staff, capacity, or access to large vehicles, which means that some food gets left at the farm.
Learn more about the Farm to Food Bank project on the TAP website and at Feeding Illinois and view the complete list of Farm to Food Bank project publications on IDEALS.