In the fall in Northern New Mexico, branches bow under the weight of ripe, delicious food waiting to be harvested. Unfortunately, when the fruit cannot be picked, or gleaned, it often fell to the ground, wasted. Fruit rotting on the ground smells unpleasant, and attracts insects and rodents—all unwanted problems. More significantly, all of that fruit could have been used to provide a nutritious snack to people in need!
One generous Santa Fe family, the Lipscombs, decided to take action, and make sure that fruit (and vegetables!) find their way to The Food Depot. The Lipscomb family called their operation “Harvest Angels” and created a webpage (www.harvestangels.com) where people could sign up to have their trees/garden gleaned. All the fruits and vegetables picked were donated to The Food Depot. Harvest Angels was started for the sole purpose of ensuring that fruit from trees helps to nourish the bodies of hungry New Mexicans. The family coordinates teams of volunteers to harvest fruit trees and donates the bounty to The Food Depot. In the past two years, thousands of pounds of fruit were harvested, including an entire apple orchard in Tesuque!
When asked why he would take on such a project, Steve Lipscomb replied, “It’s so simple. I have the opportunity to do something, to harvest this food that would go to waste and give it to this terrific organization that will quickly deliver it to people who will appreciate and enjoy it—people who need it. That’s rare and hard to find. It’s like the farm to table movement transformed into community action.”
Steve says the community response to the call for trees to glean has been incredible and he has been “picking nonstop.” Over the course of the late summer and fall, gleaning efforts on behalf of The Food Depot, including the work of Harvest Angels, provided thousands of pounds of fruit and vegetables to community members in need.
Do you have a tree that you don’t plan to harvest yourself? Have you seen a tree out at a restaurant or in a public space? Don’t let that fruit go to waste! With your help, The Food Depot can put that fruit into the hands of those in need in our community People experiencing hunger in New Mexico have limited access to the healthiest foods, such as fresh produce. You can make a difference by donating the fruit from your trees or the extra vegetables from your garden this fall. Donations are accepted at The Food Depot Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. To register a tree to harvest or to volunteer to glean trees this fall, visit the Harvest Angels website and use the “Contact Us” tab.
An interesting fact that is also heartbreaking is that, as a nation, Americans are wasting approximately fifty percent of the food produced. Fifty percent of the food in the U.S. is plowed under or goes straight into landfills every single year. At the same time, one in six Americans is experiencing hunger.
It is such a shame to waste so much food as a nation when the United States has so many people who are going hungry. One of the things that The Food Depot does best is to take food that would otherwise end up in a landfill and give that food to people who are in need.
It's all about connecting the dots between A and B. There's a hungry person. There's food that end up in a landfill. Why not put those two together and solve two problems at once?
The Food Depot serves as Northern New Mexico’s food rescue organization. The food bank develops and maintains relationships with local food retailers to support a robust food rescue program. Six days a week, The Food Depot picks up donations of food from food retailers throughout Northern New Mexico. The donated food includes produce, nonperishable items, prepared foods, dairy items, and eggs. The one thing all the food has in common? Without The Food Depot, it would end up in a landfill.
Donated food returns to The Food Depot’s warehouse where it is evaluated by a team of trained volunteers. The volunteers check expiration dates according to USDA guidelines, examine packaging to determine its safety, and prepare the food for distribution to those in need. If produce is deemed unfit for humans, it is set aside for pig farmers and composters.
Every month, The Food Depot provides 450,000 meals to people experiencing hunger—children, seniors, and struggling families. Thanks to the generosity of food retailers and the hard work of The Food Depot’s corps of volunteers, food that once would have been thrown away finds a purpose alleviating hunger.
The Food Depot fosters healthy communities by engaging a network of partners and developing solutions to create a hunger-free Northern New Mexico. As the food bank for nine counties, The Food Depot provides food to 11,000 people through seven direct service programs. The food bank also provides food to over 145 nonprofit agencies including food pantries, meal programs, and shelters, supporting an additional 55,000 people in need.
The Food Depot is recognized as an effective organization, evidenced by the following awards: 2014 winner of Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Pinon Award; 4-star rating on Charity Navigator for 10 consecutive years; voted “Best Nonprofit in Santa Fe” for 5 consecutive years.
The Food Depot’s core program provides food to a network of 145 partner nonprofit programs. Food provision to partners represents 70% of The Food Depot’s operations. The remaining 30% of The Food Depot’s hunger relief work is achieved through seven direct service programs including the following:
In 2014, The Food Depot distributed 3.6 million meals; by 2017, 5.5 million meals were provided. The increase in the number of healthy meals provided shows that The Food Depot is reducing food insecurity by narrowing the meal gap. Each month, The Food Depot provides more than 450,000 meals to alleviate hunger in our communities.
The Food Depot proudly partners with the Farmers’ Market to support local farmers and provide fresh, local produce to struggling families, seniors, and children. Every Saturday The Food Depot has a booth at the Farmers’ Market where people can donate produce they’ve purchased at the market. Combined with the Double Up SNAP Bucks program, which enables people receiving SNAP to double their benefit amount at the Farmers’ Market, the two initiatives expand the opportunity for farmers to sell their products. It’s a win-win! At the conclusion of every Saturday Farmers’ Market, The Food Depot takes a donation wagon around the market stalls and generous farmers contribute additional produce that wasn’t sold.
If you’re a local producer, buyer, agricultural business or community member, your participation is integral to the success of The AgriGate.