TALLAHASSEE, FL (April 2021) - The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) has been a voice in the agriculture industry for nearly eight decades. What started off in 1943 as a state organization has become a full-service, membership-based organization that serves the agriculture industry in the state of Florida. The FFVA listens and responds members’ needs, serving as a leading voice of agriculture in Florida and dedicating resources to enhance the competitive and business environment for producing and marketing fruits, vegetables and other crops.
A key partner for the Feeding Florida network, FFVA helps promote our state’s farmers and the importance of buying local produce. We spoke to FFVA’s Director of Communications, Christina Morton, to learn more about produce recovery and how they move produce from farm to food bank.
Q: Tell us about the importance of produce recovery and why it is such an important mission for Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association?
A: The recovery of locally grown produce – that is fresh from Florida! – is incredibly important. Florida farmers work hard – day in, day out – to produce an abundant food supply, and when that supply is threatened by slight cosmetic imperfections or imports, and ultimately turned away by retail or foodservice establishments, growers can turn to partners like Feeding Florida to ensure food does not go to waste. There is more than enough food grown on farms to feed our communities, and Florida producers are proud to work together to get food in the hands of those who need it most.
Q: Why was it important for FFVA to step in when the COVID-19 pandemic hit?
A: When the food service industry came to a sudden halt last year due to COVID-19, growers saw a swift and devastating result – healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables ready to harvest with nowhere to go. In the days and weeks after the shutdown, Florida growers quickly pivoted and sent millions of pounds to food banks in the Feeding Florida network and community organizations to redirect the produce to the families who need it. If there was a silver lining to the pandemic, it was that it placed a spotlight on the importance of American farmers, who are on the front lines putting food on consumers’ tables.
Q: How do you work with your association and partners to move produce from the farm to the plate?
A: At the heart of what we do is advocacy, helping maintain and improve Florida’s competitive position while continuing to provide consumers with an abundant supply of safe, affordable fruits, vegetables and other crops. To accomplish this, FFVA responds to the current and anticipated needs of the membership. In short, we are the go-to resource for Florida agriculture.
Q: In your own words, what is the importance of incorporating produce in the diets of Floridians, especially those from under-resourced households.
A: This is an interesting question, as a new study shows that produce consumption is declining and another highlights the many health benefits from eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables per day (a longstanding dietary recommendation). In short, as a society, we do not eat enough of these nutritious foods; yet, time and time again, we hear about the many health benefits from doing so. Just an incremental change in incorporating more fruits and vegetables into daily diets is better than none at all. Not only is it good for overall health, but it also is supporting local economies. The message is pretty clear: Eat more produce and support your local Florida farmer.
To learn more, visit the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association site.