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FOOD Share wins regional award for moving 3.5 million lbs of produce

Tina Vervoorn

Article from The Ventura County Star

In appreciation of its collaborative efforts, Ventura County agricultural communities recognized for helping to move 3.5 million lbs. of produce through regional food bank, benefitting Farm to Family program.

According to the USDA data, approximately four million Americans live in households that cannot consistently put food on the table or feed their families. The current economic slowdown, coupled with increased food costs, fuel and other basic expenses, is forcing more and more middle-class people to seek food assistance.

Since 2005, Farm to Family has increased its acquisition and distribution of fresh produce from 10 million lbs. to a record 63.4 million lbs. in 2008. And, in 2008, Ventura County's regional food bank, FOOD Share, was responsible to moving over 3.5 million lbs through its doors for distribution to those in need.

Andy Murphy, warehouse and transportation manager at FOOD Share in Oxnard, was recognized for ensuring produce grown in Ventura County be equally distributed to several other areas of the state, ultimately benefiting everyone with a variety of produce choices and balanced diet.

Murphy, who describes himself as a gatekeeper of produce at FOOD Share, says 90 percent of all produce received at FOOD Share's Oxnard warehouse is donated by local farmers and growers.

"Without the support of our local farmers and packing houses, we would not be able to move as much produce to those in need as we do," he said. "On behalf of the people in our own community, we have to thank Boskovitch, Del Monte, Chiquita, Fresca Farms, CalAvo, Mission Avocado, Jiminez Farms, PurePak, Lemoniera, Driscoll's Berries, Howling Nursery, Beyleck and McGrath Farms for their involvement in the Farm to Family Program through the CAFB."

"Andy is such a source of support and we are so appreciative of his efforts," said Bonnie Weigel, CEO of FOOD Share. "We know that growers and farmers work from sun-up to sundown and we want to express our deepest gratitude to these hard-working folks, who we are proud to honor as part of the FOOD Share family."

At a ceremony in May, Phil Henry, Central Coast Food Resources representative of the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) recognized FOOD Share and one dozen Ventura County growers and shippers for participation in the CAFB's Farm to Family program.

"The Farm to Family program connects growers and packers with California's food bank network to increase the availability of fresh produce," Henry said. "Working throughout the state, CAFB acquires produce that might otherwise be ‘dumped' for a variety of reasons. Because of Farm to Family's established logistics network, CAFB can capture this surplus produce and ship it to local food banks for distribution.

"Ventura County is one of the top 10 agricultural producing counties in the state of California and ranks at no. 11 in the entire nation," said Henry S. Gonzales agricultural commissioner for the County of Ventura. "There are many great people willing to share their bounty, and that they choose to share excess produce to those who are less fortunate is an extra blessing."

Farm to Family Food Bank video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOBGj3jNewY

About FOOD Share

A major food bank distributing millions of pounds of food each year to those in need throughout Ventura County, FOOD Share collects and receives food year-round, distributing to more than 150 partner agencies throughout Ventura County.

Its Brown Bag and Snack Attack programs provide supplemental nutrition to about 1,800 low income seniors through 32 agencies and healthy nutritious after school snacks to approximately 1,800 children though 12 agencies countywide and provides food to more than 41,000 people each month.

Information: (805) 983-7100 or www.foodshare.com.

 

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