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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Monday, December 18, 2017

From Farm to Foodbank

As we approach the end of another calendar year, many families in the U.S. and around the world are ecstatic about bringing out the winter holiday festivities. In 2016, net holiday spending reached $665.8 billion, an 8% increase compared to 2015 (American Express Spending & Saving Tracker). Out of all items purchased, foods and drinks were the second largest category.

While many enjoy excessive amounts of food, others will spend their holidays worrying about securing their next meal. Food banks play a major role in the food aid sector by distributing donated and purchased groceries directly to families affected by food insecurity. Since December is Farm to Food Bank Month, this post is dedicated to Gleaning — arguably one of the best ways to both reduce food waste and help families in need.
Gleaning is the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, or farmers’ markets
in order to provide it to those in need. In fact, you can even glean food from grocers, restaurants,
or any other sources. According to estimates, nearly one-third of the U.S. food supply goes
uneaten and wasted annually. There are two main reasons why this food never ends up on
anyone's dining table:
1.      Simply being too small to mechanically harvest; and
2.      Not meeting commercial food "beauty standards"
Source: Blake Farmer/WPLN
Monetary and material donations are undoubtedly valuable to food banks (see Ashley's post
for tips to keep in mind when donating to your local food bank), but also a trip to your local farm
with your family, friends, or community neighbors has a multi-dimensional impact; plus, the
physical act of service involved in it can be extremely fulfilling as well.

Gleaning not only prevents the waste of quality food, it provides access to nutritious foods for
populations in need, and establishes stronger ties between community members, farmers,
and food banks; Parents tip: it makes for a great field trip activity for you and the kids!

If you're looking for great charities to donate to this holiday season, consider a highly-rated organization on Charity Navigator's latest nutrition Hot Topic.

Written by Moustafa Elshaabiny, Full Stack Web Developer at Charity Navigator.

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