Feeding America, Chicago; Feeding Texas, Austin, Texas; and the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, Richardson, Texas, partnered to address hunger and food waste in the Southwest and develop a regional model that can be scaled nationally.

Beginning June 14, Feeding America, through a grant to Feeding Texas, which launched the collaborative in 2018, will become the newest investor in the Collaborative for Fresh Produce. Feeding America’s investment will support the collaborative as it hones a sustainable model to partner with commercial farmers and food banks to efficiently collect and distribute donations of imperfect and surplus produce to hungry families in Texas and across the Southwest region.

“At Feeding America, we are regularly searching for innovative approaches to solve hunger and ensure that more people have access to fresh produce, crucial for a healthy lifestyle,” says Anne Swanson, vice president of fresh produce sourcing at Feeding America. “We believe strongly in the potential of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, and as a result, are very pleased to provide significant funding and resources to Feeding Texas to support the collaborative’s great work.”

To tackle hunger, the collaborative uses state-of-the-art technology and optimizes supply chain logistics to offer growers, shippers and wholesalers an outlet to address large-scale quantities of surplus produce. 

“We’re so pleased that Feeding America has recognized the collaborative’s pioneering work and wants to take a leadership role in developing a national model for our country’s agricultural community and its nationwide network of food banks,” says Lyda Hill, founder of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce and founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Dallas, Texas. “Our goal from the outset was to work in tandem with food banks across the nation to create a scalable model, and Feeding America is ideally positioned to do just that.”

“Feeding Texas was very honored to have piloted this program in Texas before spinning it off to become the Collaborative for Fresh Produce,” says Celia Cole, chief executive officer of Feeding Texas. “We are committed to sustaining the long-term health of the organization, and are now proud to shepherd it into this growth phase.”

Due to these changes, Simon Powell, president and CEO, and Jim Farley, chief financial officer of the Collaborative for Fresh Produce, will step down from the day-to-day leadership and operations. Meanwhile, Dale Long, currently the collaborative’s executive vice president of sourcing, will become interim executive director. Rhonda Sanders, chief executive officer of the Arkansas Foodbank, Little Rock, Ark., and board member of the collaborative, will lead the transition efforts.

“We are delighted to see this effort gather this critical support from Feeding America,” says Jim Bildner, chairman of the board of the collaborative and chief executive officer of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif.