South San Francisco – In this age of change, uncertainty and financial loss, two Bay Area companies have partnered and answered the call by the USDA to supply pre-packaged consumer-ready produce food boxes to Northern California food banks, religious organizations, community support groups and other charities.
The USDA Farmers to Families food box program has committed $461 million in fresh fruit & vegetable purchases under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Because of the change in business conditions related to Covid-19, the program is designed to assist farmers and wholesalers move excess product caused by bringing fresh fruits & vegetables to consumers in need. The first phase of the program runs through June, with two extensions in place until the end of the year.
CDS Distributing, a South San Francisco produce distributor, was one of the companies chosen to participate in the program after competing with numerous companies nationwide, earning a $1.5 million contract. CDS has partnered with Produce Express BB in Sacramento to combine their unique strengths in the industry to create a 20-pound produce food box containing various seasonal produce items for distribution.
Distribution will encompass the entire Bay Area region from the North Bay to Monterey, and the Central Valley from Sacramento to Fresno.
The need for a single box with different items is great as food banks & community support organizations are experiencing difficulties in finding volunteers to build boxes for distribution and provide warehouse areas to store fresh fruits & vegetables. This program delivers a complete box with 6 different items.
“It is the perfect box for these organizations as it not only helps growers move excess supplies, but gets fresh food to the neediest,” says Alberto Navarro of CDS. “We began deliveries Monday, ranging from full truckloads to single pallets of 70 boxes. Many of these organizations do not have resources such as pallet jacks & forklifts to offload product. While visiting the neighborhood I grew up in, my nephew and I jumped in and helped offload the truck & arranged for them to keep a pallet jack on loan.”
CDS Distributing, Inc. has been in business is the Bay Area for 43 years with a satellite office in Tieton Washington. They specialize in Northwest tree fruit, potatoes and onions. The partners have up to 4 generations experience in the growing, wholesale and retail side of the produce business.