It was Gary Maxworthy who single-handedly brought fresh vegetables and fruit to the San Francisco Food Bank and into the California Food Bank system. This one man is responsible for bringing fresh healthy food to over 600 community food programs. See the short interview for more info.
One of the most rewarding things about being a photographer is getting to meet interesting people. Occasionally the are people who are making a difference in the world. The SFFB is not just a warehouse filled with canned goods. According to their website they “collect millions of pounds of food from growers, packers, processors, manufacturers, the USDA and grocery stores. This can include test-marketed products, items close to code date, produce that is the wrong shape or size for conventional markets and excess.” In other words, not just canned green beans and soups. I was pleasantly surprised to see some produce at the food bank as high quality as items at Whole Foods. Consultant Gary Maxworthy is on the Board of Directors at the SF Food Bank, and I asked him to elaborate a little more on his impact at the Food Bank.
Making a Difference in the California Food Bank System
JW: As I recall you mentioned to me that you were responsible for getting fresh produce and vegetables to the SF food bank? Is this correct?
Gary: Yes. However I do not work on the day to day logistics.
JW: Could you tell us a few of the accomplishments you are responsible for that has directly effected California food banks and/or communities across the state?
Gary: I started the program “Farm to Family” in 2000. Distributing fresh produce to food banks throughout the state. In 2006, we distributed 22 million pounds. In 2007, we distributed 38 million, and this year we will distribute over 63 million pounds to 40 Food banks throughout the State. Please note we deliver directly to these Food Banks, it does not come through SF (SF Food Bank). At the peak of the summer over 500,000 Californians in need were receiving fresh produce from farm to family WEEKLY. All product is distributed at no charge to the recipient.
JW: How much food is shipped out of the SF Food Bank and how far does this food travel outside SF?
Gary: The produce received in SF (approximately 15 million pounds this year) is distributed only in the city.
JW: I saw on the SF Food Bank website that you were able to help increase distribution from 3.5 million pounds a year to more than 24 million pounds yearly. How were you able to make this happen?
Gary: This year we will distribute around 31 million pounds of all products. Produce now represents around 55% of everything we distribute.
JW: That is such a large increase. Certainly your approach and method of networking were much different than what the food bank was doing. What inspired you to think outside the box to make this happen?
Gary: In the 90’s, dented cans and boxes were what Food Banks distributed. As that kind of product donation stopped growing, we needed a new direction. What better than to tap into California’s huge produce industry. Plus we are now giving people in need healthy nutritious food.
Photo for Fidelity Magazine. Interview as a thanks to Gary for his work.