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To Tallahassee and Back: Florida’s Farmers Share Their Bounty Through a Public/ Private Partnership

Farm Share is an excellent example of a public/ private partnership in which the needs of people are met, while a limited amount of state funds are expended.

Representative Mike Fasano is hosting his annual Farm Share holiday food giveaway today.  This publication and others have given great attention to this event which feeds over 500 families each holiday season.  Joined by Representative Richard Corcoran and Senator John Legg, this event will once again help our community’s most needy have food for their holiday table.

While the event itself gets great attention, what is not so well publicized are the people behind the scenes who make it possible; Florida’s farmers.   It is estimated that each year 15 million pounds of food are donated statewide to this fine program.  This translates into 600,000 families benefiting from the agricultural largesse.  Farm Share’s mission is simple: “Farm Share's mission is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious food to those who need it most.”

Each year Farm Share teams up with our local food bank The Volunteer Way to make Representative Fasano’s event possible.  The Volunteer Way is a premier local food bank that shares a mission not unlike Farm Share’s.  Getting food into the hands of people who need it most is what it is all about.  Representative Fasano chooses the holiday season to team up with Farm Share because it is the time of year when the expense of the holidays take their toll on all families, especially those with little to spend.

“I hope that in some small way we can help people have a nutritious meal for the holidays,” Representative Fasano states.  “Fresh fruit, vegetables and meats will adorn the tables of families in our community this month.  I thank Farm Share for their good work in making this possible.”

Farm Share estimates that almost half of every farmer’s crop is thrown away before it makes it to market.  In some cases the food may be substandard, in other cases it may not be cosmetically appealing but is nonetheless healthy and nutritious. It is this food that Farm Share, primarily through volunteers, collects from farmers who are more than willing to help those less fortunate. The farmers are proud to help others possess good food that would have been plowed back into the ground or otherwise destroyed.

“If we took everything that is being thrown away, kept it from the landfills and gave it away we would solve the world’s hunger,” states.  Patricia Robbins, CEO of Farm Share.

To help Farm Share in its mission to feed hungry Floridians, Florida budgets money to help defray the cost of shipping the food from the farms to giveaway sites.  In the 2011-2012 fiscal budget this appropriation was cut and local giveaway organizers like Representative Fasano had to raise monies to pay for the delivery truck.  During the 2012 legislative session those funds were restored to the state budget, which allows event organizers to raise and spend money to feed even more people.

Farm Share is an excellent example of a public/ private partnership in which the needs of people are met, while a limited amount of state funds are expended.  The program saves literally tons of food from being wasted each year, and helps people and their families stay healthy and well fed.

If you have any questions about Farm Share, the legislative process, or would like to learn more about a specific topic relating to government, please leave me a comment.  I will gladly address your thoughts and concerns in an upcoming blog post.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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