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Robin Safley: Helping Florida’s farmers helps all of us

By Robin Safley
Exeutive Director of Feeding Florida

Published March 2, 2022 in Florida Politics

If ever an investment was a win-win-win, this is it.

Florida lawmakers are on the cusp of helping Floridians in need while also taking action to help our state’s local farmers.

By making a strategic investment in Feeding Florida — the state’s largest network of food banks — we not only ensure that Floridians in need will continue to receive high-quality fresh-from-Florida food, but that our state remains a leading producer of local fruits and vegetables.

Here’s how the budget request, if granted, will work …

Our funding request — now in both budgets — will be used to support our state’s local farmers by offsetting what are known as “pick and pack out” fees. These costs are needed to pick, pack and transport grown produce that might otherwise remain unharvested. In many cases and for a variety of economic reasons, farmers simply cannot afford to pull produce out of the field. By paying our farmers to pick, pack and transport these fresh foods, we not only help keep those local farmers in business, but use that fresh-from-Florida food to help Floridians in need. Additionally, by supporting our local farmers, we help keep our state self-sufficient and less reliant on foreign imports. I cannot think of a better time for this kind of investment as Americans have experienced a unique food availability crisis over the past two years. During that time, we have seen just how critical it is that farmers are appropriately and adequately compensated for their crops, and how much of an effect it has on our local communities.

If ever an investment was a win-win-win, this is it.

This is just one way that, through collaboration and innovation, Feeding Florida member food banks are expanding the possibilities for solving hunger here in the Sunshine State. Access to healthy nutritious food is fundamental and is the foundation from which the success of all other issues is determined. If we do not have a steady supply of locally grown produce with a thriving agricultural community, none of this can happen.

As the state’s largest network of food banks serving Floridians in every corner of our state year-round and seven days a week, we know just how vital these kinds of investments are. By partnering with Florida farmers, Feeding Florida’s member food banks are an embedded part of Florida’s agricultural supply chain. And because of this, Florida residents are assured a steady supply of grade A, fresh and healthy food products. Funds provided by the state will go directly to services to help support an operation that is established, built and running efficiently.

Florida lawmakers know that and we at Feeding Florida are grateful for their wisdom and their commitment not just to feeding families in need, but for helping strengthen our food independence by standing by our local farming families as well.

Robin Safley is the Executive Director of Feeding Florida, a statewide network of 12-member food banks and over 2,400 partner agencies that feed every community every day.

This column was published by Florida Politics on March 2, 2022 online. Click here to see the original article. 

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