3.7 million gallons of milk dumped each day, 750,000 unhatched eggs smashed every week. According to Dairy Farmers of America, that’s the estimated amount of food that farmers are wasting on a regular basis.
Covid 19 brought a nation wide halt to the regular operations of public spaces. With restaurants and school cafeterias shutting down, farmers found buyers of their produce decreasing. As their contracts dropped, the food in their warehouses piled up. Simultaneously, food insecurity in America rapidly increased. More and more people found themselves negatively impacted by the pandemic’s economy. Lines outside of food banks got longer while food surplus rotted on farms rotted in fields.
The question that a few college students began to ask was: why should anyone go to bed hungry when there’s a perfectly fresh abundance of produce that’s being sent to landfills? This is what began The Farmlink Project. Started in April of 2020, it now boasts over 250 college students who are committed to the cause of making food accessible to those who need it and ensuring minimal waste.
The project began with simple cold calls to farmers to buy their excess produce. In order to cover picking and packing out costs, these students raised funds from family and friends, hired trucks to drive out to farms themselves and through their tireless efforts, reached out to food banks in the state of California to whom they could distribute the excess produce. A seemingly small contribution that quickly spread its seeds to effect massive change.
Securing a fiscal sponsorship from Food Finders allowed them to scale up and form relationships with food banks outside of the state. A partnership with Uber Freight made this work more possible and increased their transport load capability to about 40,000 pounds of fresh produce. Today, The Farmlink Project has distributed over 30 million pounds of fresh produce in over 44 states, repurposing surplus produce while fighting food insecurity.
The Farmlink Project’s eventual goal is to be put out of business. Working to streamline agricultural supply chains across the US, the desire to set up systems in place which make their work obsolete is a noble and ambitious act that these Gen’Z-ers have set out to accomplish. Ways to support the mission include the option to donate as well as getting involved directly. Working power hours to research and contact food banks and farms, launching fundraising campaigns or signing on full time to become a Fund Developer: The Farmlink Project provides many opportunities for those who are interested to join the team!