Three Stories of Rescued Summer Veggies

Feeding America rescues popular summer fruits and veggies and gives them to hungry families.

Volunteer in community garden
July 20, 2018
by Allison Weber

Can you imagine summer without sticky fingers from fresh watermelon or kernels in your teeth from sweet corn? Fresh produce adds nutrients, flavor and color to our patios and picnic tables all season long. However, 90 percent of people in our country don’t get enough fresh produce in their diets and low-income households face the biggest challenges in accessing healthy food.

Feeding America is doing everything we can to source more fruits and vegetables for the people we serve. Lots of perfectly good produce ends up going to waste if it doesn’t find a home quickly—and that’s where Feeding America steps in. Read three stories below that show how we ensure fruits and vegetables reach people facing hunger rather than landfills.

  1. This spring, we saved nearly 1 million pounds of fresh tomatoes to feed families struggling with hunger.

These delicious tomatoes were originally shipped to a large produce market on the West Coast by a grower who hoped they would be purchased. However, no one was interested in the tomatoes because there were already more than enough available at the market. After hearing about the tasty tomatoes, Feeding America was able to rescue and send them to our produce cooperatives in nearby states that then share them with food banks and pantries. A woman at a mobile pantry who received some of the tomatoes, “Was so excited she didn’t even wipe [the tomato] off on her shirt. She started eating it like an apple,” said the mobile pantry coordinator. “I know we all struggle some days—this day we made this woman’s week.”

  1. Feeding America rescued nearly 30,000 pounds of lettuce in June and shared it with food banks across the Northeast.

A farmer unexpectedly had two fields of lettuce ripen at the same time but his biggest customer only needed lettuce from one field. Without another buyer lined up, the farmer thought the lettuce from the second field would have to go to waste. We connected with him just in time to rescue the perfectly good lettuce. We shipped the lettuce to Philadelphia where it was promptly moved onto trucks headed for food banks that serve communities across the Northeast. Over the past few weeks, this fresh lettuce has been shared with thousands of people in need—making it possible for families from Maine to Virginia to add veggies to their dinner plates that they might not have been able to enjoy otherwise.

  1. We helped provide 43,000 pounds of summer squash to people in need that almost went to waste on a farm in Pennsylvania.

This past growing season, a group of Amish farmers in rural Pennsylvania harvested way more squash than they expected. They also found that the vegetables were larger than what grocery stores typically want, even though the squash was perfectly edible. Instead of throwing away the unsellable produce, the farmers connected with Feeding America. We gladly received the huge shipment of ripe veggies and passed it to food banks so it could reach families in need. Whether it’s grilled, roasted or sautéed, the squash provided energy and nutrients to many people this summer.

There’s enough food for everyone in America, yet millions of people struggle with hunger. We partner with farmers, growers and retailers to rescue as much produce as we can in order to feed more families. Want to know more? Sign up to receive email updates from Feeding America.