Marketing Gleaning Program to Farmers

     Food pantry gleaning programs are mutually beneficial for food pantries and farmers. Gleaning allows for unmarketable produce to be given to someone who needs it instead of going into a landfill. Like most people, many farmers do not know that some food pantries will ecstatically accept donations of fresh produce. That is why it is important to market the gleaning program to them.

      Going out to visit farms in person is the best way to market a gleaning program. This gives the farmer the opportunity to ask specific questions about the food pantry. It’s also always helpful for farmers to put a face to the name/ organization—it’s better for communication and relationship-building.

     When marketing the gleaning program, it is best to have handouts to give the farmer. These handouts should include: a list of highly requested produce, information about the pantry, a copy of a gleaner waiver form, and a tax credit information sheet, if they located within the state of Virginia. All of this information shows the farmer that the pantry has done its research on gleaning programs and that there is no liability to the farmer for donating their extra produce.

      Many farmers are friends with other farmers in their area, and if they have a good relationship with one pantry, they are likely to tell their friends about it. Often, farmers are engrossed in their work and hesitant or unable to do their own research on the credibility of a gleaning program; especially when they tend to not make much of a profit to begin with. Another farmer’s reference is the best way to market a new gleaning program, especially if there are a limited amount of farms to glean from.

      The most effective way Food for Others markets their gleaning program to Virginia farmers is by informing farmers of the Virginia Food Crop Donation Tax Credit, which allows Virginia farmers to receive up to $5, 000 in tax credits for donating produce that they grow to a food pantry. This is an excellent way to market a new gleaning program because there is a monetary incentive for donating. Virginia is not the only state that offers a tax credit to farmers for donating fresh produce to pantries: Maryland, California, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, South Carolina, and West Virginia also have their own tax credit incentives for farmers who donate produce to a food pantry in their state. If the state your pantry is located in does not offer a state tax credit for farmers donating produce, the farmer will still receive a tax deduction for the donation. 

Food for Others officially began feeding the hungry from its Merrifield site in 1995. Today food supply, storage and distribution activities are made possible by a network of active volunteers, supporting churches and organizations, grocery stores, farms, gardens, farmers markets, and retail food contributor in addition to the receiving community centers, soup kitchens, and food pantries who together are dedicated to feeding the hungry of Northern Virginia. Nine staff members are employed full time to handle operations at our warehouse. All officers and directors are volunteers who work without compensation. Volunteers staff the office and are responsible for program administration and fundraising.

Food for Others provides free food to those in need throughout Northern Virginia. We distribute food in 4 ways, through our emergency warehouse distributions, through our 17 neighborhood sites across Northern Virginia that occur on weeknights, through our 14 community partners, and through our weekend food program for children at 29 Fairfax County Schools. Across all programs we serve an average of 1,800 families per week. Currently, we are focusing on providing healthier foods to our clients because we know that poor nutrition can have lasting detrimental effects on our community.

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