Feeding America® and Cargill Announce New USDA Clean Room at the Houston Food Bank

Partnership helps to address the protein gap; provides nutritious food to children and families who face hunger

February 4, 2020

Today, Feeding America® and Cargill announced that they are partnering with the Houston Food Bank, a member of the Feeding America network, to provide more protein and other nutritious food to people who face hunger throughout the Houston area.

Cargill is investing in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) clean room, a food processing space that is inspected and monitored by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. USDA clean rooms enable the receipt of bulk format cartons of protein from industry partners that food banks can then convert to retail-sized portions. 

Protein is the most difficult food group for member food banks to obtain for children and families who face hunger due to costs and short shelf life; however, it is a critical part of a balanced diet. Last year, the Feeding America nationwide network of 200 member food banks received 410 million pounds of protein, well below the 4.8 billion pounds needed to meet the federally suggested dietary requirement, while 15 billion pounds of meat, poultry and seafood goes to landfill* annually. This partnership helps to close this protein gap and reduce food waste.

“People who struggle with hunger do not have regular access to enough food for a healthy, active life. We are proud to partner with Cargill and the Houston Food Bank to provide nutritious food and protein to our neighbors who struggle to put food on their tables,” said Blake Thompson, chief supply chain officer at Feeding America.

“It is important to the Houston Food Bank to increase food access for those in need and, more specifically, to make nutritious foods a part of their regular diet,” says Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “Protein and fresh produce are extremely important to all diets and among the most sought-after food items by food banks and the neighbors we serve. With the new clean room, sponsored by Cargill, some of the barriers to providing much-needed protein for better lives will be removed.” 

USDA clean rooms operated by Feeding America food banks will follow a hub-and-spoke model in which the “clean room central hub food bank” assists in the sourcing and distribution of protein for their own service area as well as “spoke” service areas served by other food banks. On average, a 30’ x 40’ facility can help prepare 300,000 pounds of additional protein per year. The installation of a USDA clean room at one food bank helped to increase overall protein donations by 60%.

“This new clean room is a critical milestone in our efforts to address hunger, food loss and waste, and food safety,” said Pete Stoddart, Cargill’s corporate responsibility lead in North America. “This is just one of the ways we are improving communities through the power of food.”  

In addition to funding a clean room, Cargill recently donated $3 million to the Feeding America to support ongoing efforts to reduce food waste and improve access to produce and other nutritious food. Cargill also supports workforce development through investment in community kitchen and other job training programs at 26 Feeding America food banks.

Cargill is a long-standing partner of Feeding America and has impacted all 200 member food banks.  Since 1986, the company has provided financial investments, product donations, employee engagement, and senior thought leadership. Cargill helped to revolutionize food safety within the Feeding America network through the implementation of a rigorous food safety program at every member food bank.

* USDA ERS Bulletin 121, Table 1: Estimated Total Food Loss in the United States, 2010


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.