Treasure Coast Food Bank receives $400,000 grant from USDA
Grant money will expand amount of local produce for the community and expand markets for local and regional farmers
FORT PIERCE, Fl. Feb. 10, 2020 - Treasure Coast Food Bank has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nearly $400,000 to get more local produce to the community and expand markets for local and regional farmers.
The grant will enable Treasure Coast Food Bank to ramp up production at its food processing facility five-fold so by the end of the three-year period five million pounds of locally and regionally grown fruits and vegetables will be processed through the facility. This will strengthen market opportunities for local and regional farmers, and at the same time, significantly expand the amount of fresh, locally grown produce available to the community.
Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only organization in Florida to receive a grant from the USDA Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, a part of the 2018 Farm Bill for Local Agricultural Marketing Programs that totaled $23.5 million. Treasure Coast Food Bank was one of only 49 grant recipients chosen from 215 applications for Local Food Promotion Programs.
“We are very pleased to receive this grant and excited about the opportunities that it presents,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “We plan to significantly increase the amount of Florida grown produce purchased from our farmers and consumed by our local community. This is a benefit not only to our farmers and families, but to the entire community, which will experience an economic benefit from these programs.”
Treasure Coast Food Bank received $397,000 and will provide a required 25 percent match for a total investment of $499,472. Under the program, Treasure Coast Food Bank will expand three key markets for the fresh produce and processed products – 2,000 Farm Boxes for local families, school lunches at 20 additional schools, and 10 new customers for specialty produce or products created in its food processing plant.
“Within 400 miles of our location, there are hundreds of small-scale family farmers and growers who would benefit from a stable market for their produce, including produce that isn’t marketable to retailers because it might not be the right size or shape,” Cruz said. “We’ll be seeking to purchase that produce, then either distributing it through our Farm Box program or processing it into ready-to-use portions or specialty items for restaurants and other big production kitchens.”
Treasure Coast Food Bank’s food processing facility began operation in 2017. Today, it processes about one million pounds of produce annually. The produce is used in school lunches for St. Lucie County, and it’s distributed to people who struggle with hunger and who otherwise might not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
ABOUT TREASURE COAST FOOD BANK
Treasure Coast Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization on Florida’s Treasure Coast, providing the community each year with millions of meals valued at more than $50 million through robust programs and in partnership with 400 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. In addition to emergency food distribution, Treasure Coast Food Bank operates a full roster of direct service programs that not only solve the immediate problem of hunger, but help individuals and families gain long-term food security, better health outcomes, and self-sufficiency. Treasure Coast Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. For more information on Treasure Coast Food Bank, call 772.489.3034, log on to stophunger.org, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/tcfoodbank, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/tcfoodbank.
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