With food insecurity continuing to rise, Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried is encouraging non-profit organizations and volunteers to participate in the Food Recovery Program. The program assists Florida families who struggle to afford fresh fruits and vegetables, reduces food waste, and encourages healthy lifestyles and community engagement.
Enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1994, and administered by the Division of Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, the Food Recovery Program gathers leftover farm-fresh produce after harvests, rescues unsold food products from wholesale and retail sources, and distributes recovered foods to local food banks and emergency food programs. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services connects farmers with non-profit organizations and volunteers, and holds workshops and trainings on the program.
How does the program work?
Step 1: When farmers have leftover produce in their fields, the Division identifies non-profit organizations near their farms with the ability to process and distribute the food being donated.
Step 2: Once the farm and non-profit organization have been identified, volunteers visit the farm to gather the leftover produce.
Step 3: The recovered produce is taken to the non-profit organization where it’s distributed to Floridians in need.
How can communities get involved?
- Volunteer in a field gleaning (gathering) session at a local farm
- Contribute to non-profit organizations involved in food recovery
- Consider donating unharvested or excess food to a local food bank
- Share food recovery information with community members
“Food insecurity is a serious and heartbreaking issue affecting communities across Florida. Too many Floridians are going hungry every day from a lack of resources,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “In the wealthiest nation on Earth, we can’t accept that our state’s children and families can’t access fresh food, while so much food goes to waste. I encourage non-profits, volunteers, and farmers with heart to join the Food Recovery Program and help us deliver Fresh From Florida nutrition to our fellow Floridians in need.”
“The Food Recovery Program not only allows us to share Florida’s abundance of healthy fruits and vegetables with our communities, but also to ensure adequate nutrition gets into the hands of those who need it most,” said Robin Safley, Executive Director of Feeding Florida. “As the voice of our state’s hunger relief network, Feeding Florida relies upon the Food Recovery Program’s success to work towards a hunger free Florida.”