The HVADC Cultivator

HVADC Program:
2021 FeedHV Results

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Since its inception five years ago, FeedHV has been an important element of HVADC’s programing. Dedicated to the dual missions of reducing food waste and providing those suffering from food insecurity better access to farm fresh healthy foods, FeedHV has been a valuable resource to food pantries and aid organizations in the Hudson Valley.

FeedHV is a regional food rescue and harvesting network operating throughout Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Columbia, Greene, Putnam and Sullivan counties. It links donors of prepared, but unserved, food and fresh produce with nonprofits and food assistance programs. HVADC has been administrating the network since 2018.

 

Despite the challenges of a second pandemic year, FeedHV soldiered onward. Though the network was impacted by the logistical difficulties of executing its mission through the pandemic, and the additional stress put on the regional food system, staff and volunteers were emboldened in their resolve that the services provided by FeedHV are more critically needed than ever. FeedHV is very fortunate to have a growing network of dedicated volunteers, and in 2021, 35 new volunteers joined the troop, with particular growth in Greene, Dutchess, and Ulster Counties.

 

In 2021 FeedHV delivered tens of thousands of pounds of donated food and repeatedly heard from recipient organizations that the quality and variety of farm fresh products is appreciated by their clientele. As one receiving agency, the Prabhuji Food Distribution Program in Catskill reported, “We distributed food to 85 households before the Holiday, and the food that we received from you was a great contribution. People were especially happy about the Goose as for many of the families it replaced the Turkey on their Thanksgiving table.”

 

According to FeedHV 2021 statistics, 60.7% of donations were produce, 16.8% was restaurant prepared or catered food and 9.4% was dairy. The rest of the donations were comprised of baked goods, packaged foods and protein.

 

“FeedHV has played an important role in giving HVADC a mechanism to directly address crisis in the regional food system,” said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “Our dedicated staff and volunteer network do an amazing job of bringing farm fresh food to the communities that need it most, and they are doing it with products that are healthier and more nutritious.”

 

FeedHV facilitated 598 volunteer food runs in 2021, rescuing 84,368 pounds from donors and through farm gleaning events. The number of runs increased 8% from 2020, with runs averaging 140.9 pounds each.  The total poundage redirected was a decrease from the previous year, but there was much more public attention being paid to food insecurity during the first year of the pandemic and many donors have themselves reduced waste. Throughout the year there were lessons learned through interactions with both donors and receiving agencies, most particularly how both sides of the network had to adjust their models to mitigate the challenges of shutdowns while facing increased food insecurity.  Donors getting back on their feet reported that they learned how to more carefully manage their inventories and by doing so, on their own reduce food waste. Agencies learned how to implement even higher levels of food safety and more efficient client distribution methods. Lessons learned and connections made during those busy and trying times have been beneficial for how FeedHV plans for future success.

 

Long-time HVADC partners previously involved in other HVADC programs also stepped up to help the FoodHV network achieve successes in facilitating donations. For example, Scenic Hudson partnered with FeedHV in two instances during 2021to purchase products from local food businesses for donation to local agencies. When combining farm-gleaned products and facilitated donations, FeedHV was able to direct 94,010 pounds of food to agencies with food assistance programs in 2021. While this fell short of the organization’s goal of 100,000 pounds, there is optimism that as food service businesses re-open and regain business, more frequent and larger donations will begin to flow again.

 

“2021 was challenging,” said HVADC Program Associate Brianna Merrill, who is the program coordinator for FeedHV. “There wasn’t the same amount of large bulk donations as we saw in 2020, largely due to schools, institutions and event venues being shut down.  It’s been gratifying to see FeedHV fill in needs as they arise in the community and get creative with how to source donations.”

 

Beyond coping with limitations encountered due to the pandemic, 2021 was a year during which FeedHV learned more about its donor and receiving agencies’ needs, and was able to identify some shortcomings it now has the opportunity to address. One identified need that was exposed is that there is a lack of a regional infrastructure for fresh food transportation and cold storage. Donations are not always needed by agencies exactly when they are offered and need to be held somewhere and then often transported a second time to actually get to where the need is.

 

In 2022 FeedHV is excited to grow on all fronts, expanding its donor base, volunteer numbers and increase the amount of food delivered to vulnerable communities. With the goal of rescuing 100,000 pounds of food this year, FeedHV continues to forge new community networks, connecting producers and organizations with an opportunity to see their high-quality fresh product make an impact. New outreach is being made in particular to welcome new donors to the network. HVADC has learned a lot about the weaknesses of the Hudson Valley’s food system through the administration of FeedHV, especially during the pandemic. This year FeedHV looks to connect and feed more people than ever before.

 

The program recently welcomed Christopher Braccia as a Program Associate to further help with administration and donor and volunteer outreach. The Cultivator will feature an article about Christopher in the coming months, and expand upon his role with FeedHV.

To learn more about FeedHV, visit www.feedhv.org. To become a food donor or volunteer, contact Brianna at bmerrill@hvadc.org or Christopher at cbraccia@hvadc.org or by calling 518-432-5360 x 402. To make a monetary donation to FeedHV, visit https://www.feedhv.org/donate-today.