By Christopher Luebbe, Volunteer Coordinator
Imagine a football field. Now imagine 14 of them end-to-end, filled with produce from all over the world: local apples to Jersey Sweet Corn, citrus from California and Florida, pomegranates from Chile, persimmons from Israel and all kinds of other exotic produce from Africa and Asia.
If this is what you’re seeing, you are likely standing in the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, the largest covered, refrigerated produce market in the world. The market sells millions of pounds of produce each year, and wastes food, as well.
Produce waste occurs for many reasons: perhaps the vendors cannot sell their product quickly enough: or it isn’t ‘pretty’ enough for retail shelves, even though much of this produce is still nutritious and healthy!
About 40% of the food produced in this country ends up in the landfill instead of people’s stomachs, and “rescuing” just 15% of that food and providing it to people in need would reduce food insecurity by 50%, killing two birds with one stone is a no brainer–Enter Philabundance and the Produce Market Rescue!
Every Friday morning a team of volunteers and staff works with the Produce Market to solicit, inspect and sort through produce that is no longer sellable.
Our team sorts and boxes around 15,000 pounds of produce each four-hour shift, and then it’s sent to our food-insecure neighbors.
About 40% of the food produced in this country ends up in the landfill instead of people’s stomachs, and “rescuing” just 15% of that food and providing it to people in need would reduce food insecurity by 50%.
Volunteers are often shocked when they see the quality – and quantity — of produce that they have rescued at the end of the shift, that they leave feeling a sense of accomplishment from this rewarding experience knowing that all of that food will help to feed a family in need.
Sign up for a volunteer shift and see for yourself!