Simon Powell, Dale Long, Dante Galeazzi, and Cathy Burns Discuss the Collaborative for Fresh Produce™
DALLAS, TX - Barely halfway into its first year, Collaborative for Fresh Produce™ (CFP) is a program rapidly gaining traction. Founded to ensure fresh produce gets to those who need it most no matter their proximity to a farm, CFP is growing from mostly a Texas-only operation to a multi-state movement feeding food banks in surrounding states.
“The Collaborative for Fresh Produce started May 1 of this year, after a successful two year pilot of the concept by Feeding Texas,” Simon Powell, President and CEO, shares with me.
He brought a background in supply chain management to the North Texas Food Bank when he joined the organization in 2014 with a mission to increase access to fresh produce for those in need. It wasn’t long, though, before he recognized that he needed help from somebody with more experience in the industry.
“I found out this industry is very relationship-based. Without much background I went to find someone who could help, and I was fortunate enough to meet Dale,” Simon continues.
Dale Long, Executive Vice President of CFP, currently leads the Dallas Fresh Foods Association as President and brings a well-versed portfolio of industry experience.
“I had been in the buy-side for three grocery chains for 27 years. I enjoyed my job purchasing and advertising produce, but after a while I just wanted something new to make a difference,” Dale tells me of how he made the leap.
Since partnering together to expand a state-wide initiative to a regional approach, Dale and Simon together have gained the support of a few movers and shakers in our industry, including Texas International Produce Association President and CEO Dante Galeazzi.
Dante shared that he always thought their mission to help feed those who might need the help was incredibly important.
“If I could help in anyway then I wanted to do that, and if I could do it while helping promote the importance of fresh produce for a healthy lifestyle, then even better,” he tells me. “From a business perspective, we’re hearing more about food waste every day. There’s even legislation now working to address that. Regardless of how someone might sit on that issue, what CFP offers is the opportunity to make use of product that might otherwise go unsold or end-up in a landfill. More so, it keeps the produce moving and the product fresh.”
The other benefit Dante lists to getting involved with such a project is when the marketplace faces a glut of product.
“Rather than use up cooler space or dedicate personnel to constantly rerunning the product—thus incurring additional expenses or utilizing valuable and costly personnel time—a company can donate product to CFP. This means no additional input and can provide a tax write-off for the value of the load. Additionally, it creates an outlet for otherwise unideal products that might be too small or too big, the wrong color or wrong shape, or too much wind-scarring. The CFP can pay a portion of the packing and material costs (PPO) and it means that the farmers are able to sell a larger portion of their crop, thus improving their yields and the throughput of the packers and handlers,” he concludes.
Simon and Dale both express excitement about what the CFP can do not just for helping those who need access to fresh produce, but also for those who are in the business of providing it.
“One thing that became apparent to us is that for food banks far away from major produce growing regions, it’s very hard to get access to fresh produce. Various retail stores donate, but it’s usually near expiration which makes it hard to collect and hand out. Many have little-to-no experience with who to go to in terms of obtaining product. We and several others had this exact same problem and thought it would be better to work together in a coordinated way,” Simon says.
Another supporter of the burgeoning CFP is Produce Marketing Association CEO Cathy Burns.
“We need everyone pulling together if we are to achieve our vision of a healthier world,” Cathy shares of getting involved. “This includes the many charitable efforts that get delicious, healthy fresh produce to underserved populations. This includes the amazing work of our members, including charitable organizations like the nonprofit Collaborative for Fresh Produce. Building demand for fresh produce is much broader than just the commercial marketplace. It includes support for groups like this that are broadening availability of fresh produce to those in need.”
A reliable outlet for products growers can’t sell, as well as a resource for a entire demographic of consumers, this is one program to keep an eye on. To learn more visit the collaborative’s website here.