Farm Fresh

The Changing Mix of Charitable Food Distribution

Twenty to thirty years ago, people who were served by food banks received boxes and cans of food and precious little else. Today, concerned about the health of our patrons, we’re making sure that fresh fruits and vegetables comprise an increasingly large portion of the vital food distributed by Food Banks.

In 2015-16 the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank distributed almost 6 million pounds of produce.

Key Findings Regarding the Health of Our Hungry Neighbors

In the latest Hunger in America study, we learned that

  • 30% of the households we serve have at least one person with diabetes
  • 57% of the households we serve have at least one person with high blood pressure
  • 40% of households have no health insurance

Hunger is a public health crisis that feeds on itself. People who are in poor health and have little to no access to health care or nutritious food can become increasingly more reliant on public and private assistance.

What is the Farm Fresh Fund?

With a goal to offer healthy choices to those most at risk, the Farm Fresh Fund means a wide variety of fresh produce harvested by local farmers can be acquired at a deep discount, helping farmers cover the cost of picking and packing the food left in their fields.

The program began in 2015 through a partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction and with the support of generous donors, it quickly expanded. In the 2015 growing season, the Food Bank was able to purchase more than 431,214 pounds of Virginia-grown fruits and vegetables which were distributed through our partners (food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters), eventually reaching the tables of the people we serve. The produce is distributed through every corner of the 8 cities and 25 counties served by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

How You Can Help

Make a gift to the Farm Fresh Fund! We are grateful to announce that our friends at Farm Credit of the Virginias will generously match donations to the Farm Fresh Program up to $25,000. Your gift plus the matching dollars will help us ensure our entire community has access to fresh and nutritious produce to balance their meals. 

For additional information, please contact: Karen Ratzlaff, Chief Development Officer, at 540.213.8404 or kratzlaff@brafb.org.