DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Boxes of fresh produce and jugs of milk are being made available to pick up at no cost at locations around Dallas Saturday.
There’s no criteria to meet — everyone qualifies. You just need to get them before supplies run out.
The giveaway is part of the USDA’s new Farmers to Families Food Box program, which purchases fresh food from companies that normally supply restaurants, hotels, cruise ships and other industries hurt by the economic slowdown.
The first truck arrived at Hunger Busters in Dallas Friday afternoon.
By morning, the food pantry is slated to receive six thousand boxes, all filled with fresh produce.
“When I got the call about this, I made this my top priority. I made sure that we were on the list to get it,” said Jason Perez, VP of operations.
At Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano, founder Cheryl Jackson hugged the boxes of food.
“I’m so happy about this,” she said. “I promise you it’s like Christmas in May.”
The non-profits say it’s rare they receive such fresh food and milk more than a week out from its expiration date.
“This is like gold. This right here is what a mom would cry over because she can’t afford it in these difficult times,” said Jackson.
The program aims to help businesses, too.
“Business literally stopped,” said Tony DiMare, owner of DiMare Fresh in Fort Worth.
Eighty percent of his sales, he says, were to commercial customers, like restaurants, heavily impacted by the economic slowdown. When they closed down, demand for his produce vanished.
“We ended up leaving over 10 million pounds of tomatoes unharvested in the field and that’s, you know, not unlike a lot of growers in Florida, in dairy, and around this country that were dumping thousands and millions of pounds of milk every day,” he said.
DiMare won a multi-million dollar contract to package and deliver produce boxes to non-profits, in what he describes as “win-win” solution, benefiting an entire supply chain from the farmers to the consumers.
Money will trickle down to those growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.
Fresh food will end up in the hands of hungry families.
Borden Dairy, based in Dallas, says it received the largest contract in the country, to provide 44 million gallons of milk. It’s already made plans to give away 437 thousand gallons in the North Texas area alone.
“I’m very excited,” said Perez, closing the back of one truck filled with pallets.
Soon, he’ll get to put it in the hands of the people who need it.
Minnie’s Food Pantry will distribute starting at 10 a.m. Saturday in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District:
- MINT dentistry, 2433 W Davis Street
Hunger Busters will begin distributing food at 11 a.m. Saturday at these Dallas locations:
- Hunger Busters, 3116 Sylvan Avenue
- Lakewest YMCA, 3737 Goldman
- Los Rieles, 4930 Military Parkway
For more information on the program, visit the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box page.