We rely upon many different types of food donors to feed people across 23 parishes, including working with local farmers. An innovative program now allows us to purchase fresh local produce at a very reduced cost, while at the same time helping local farmers cover their expenses.
“We use the Value Added Producer Program, known as VAP, to purchase local fruit and vegetables that might otherwise end up in a landfill,” according to Food Sourcing Specialist Natasha Curley. “This produce is fresh and perfectly fine to eat, but may have some cosmetic blemishes or size issues that would keep them off store shelves.”
The VAP program allows Second Harvest to pay farmers a small amount to cover the expense of harvesting and processing the produce. St. Landry Parish sweet potato farmer Larry Fontenot says the program makes an incredible difference in being able to keep his family farm afloat when a crop doesn’t turn out quite right. When the potatoes he grows are too small for his regular customers, he gives us a call.
“Little farms like us take a big chance every season,” Mr. Fontenot said. “Right now, we’re just trying to make a living. Knowing that food we grow is going to needy people, that certainly is a blessing.”
Since 2015 the Fontenot family farm has provided 300,550 pounds of fresh Louisiana sweet potatoes to those we serve. And it’s all been possible thanks to donors like you.