Spotlight: Farmlink Helping Farms and Foodbanks In need
2020 has been a year unlike any other and one industry that has been hit extremely hard are farmers. As reports surface with images of millions of pounds of milk and produce being dumped, while millions go hungry during the pandemic a solution was needed. A study by Feeding America found that one in two children and one in three adults in America will experience food insecurity because of the pandemic. Globally this number reaches 265 million people just because of the pandemic alone.
Enter FarmLink a solution started by two university students at Brown University that connects excess food from farmers to food banks in need. The way the service works is that it helps pay for transportation costs to ensure that good food ends up in the hands of people who need it, instead of a landfill. This problem has been exacerbated by the sudden closure of large scale businesses that usually purchase large quantities of food from farmers.
The students say the movement initially started with raising $5000 to redirect food on the East Coast, but now they have a team of 100 people, as the interest spread like wildfire from students and recent graduates all across the country. As of June 15th, the group has redirected over 2.4 million pounds of food, providing over 2.5 million meals to those in need.
The group has no plans on stopping and understands that they may need to pivot their strategy once businesses start to reopen after the pandemic. Even if the amount of excess food declines after the pandemic, food waste is still a huge issue, especially on farms. In Canada and the USA the government subsidizes farmers for food that they are forced to throw out, making it easier for farmers to just throw away food instead of finding more sustainable solutions. FarmLink will hopefully be one of the sustainable ways farms can deal with their excess food, as farmers globally produce enough food to feed the whole population and another 2 billion people on top of that.
The problem has never been a lack of food, rather a lack of access to good and safe-to-eat food. If you are interested in learning more about FarmLink here is the link to their website: https://farmlinkproject.org/