The Capital Area Food Bank is now distributing more healthy fruits and vegetables like kale and cabbage to residents struggling with hunger, thanks to the recent launch of its 2015 season of the Fruits and Vegetables Fund for Greater Washington. For the first time, this year the Fruits and Vegetables Fund will distribute more pounds of greens – like collards – than any other vegetable through the Fruits and Vegetables Fund. The CAFB will purchase nearly 400,000 pounds of fresh produce, prioritizing greens over starch-heavy, higher-calorie vegetables like potatoes and corn.
The Fund, made possible through the generous support of the Marriot Foundation, operates during the growing season. Five farms in the Washington metro area grow a set quantity of nine different produce varieties for the CAFB at a pre-determined price point. The CAFB picks each harvest up at the farm and then distributes to 16 of its nearly 500 food assistance partners located in Suburban Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District to feed people in need. The CAFB partners, including churches, food pantries, and community centers, also receive educational materials such as CAFB recipes to help clients transform ingredients into healthy meals.
The CAFB’s greens are being delivered this summer directly from Bartenfelder Farms in Preston, Maryland and will continue to arrive through December. This partnership provides local farmers like Joe Bartenfelder, who owns the farm and currently serves as Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, a guaranteed revenue source. It also allows the CAFB to forecast exactly what produce varieties will be available for its partners on which dates, so its nutrition education staff can plan educational resources around the seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Fund serves as just one example of the food bank’s commitment to boosting the health and wellness of the 540,000 residents it feeds in the Washington metro area who lack access to healthy food.