Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series
Name: The Farmlink Project
What They Do: Farmlink collects excess produce from farms across America and delivers it to organizations that help feed food-insecure individuals. The organization’s work supports not only food-insecure families but also the farmers and recipient charities, who do not have to pay transportation costs to deliver and receive the produce.
The nonprofit was started in 2020 by college students whose campuses had shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and who wanted to help struggling families.
How They Do It: Farmlink has a national network of partners, farmers, and charities along with more than 600 volunteers, who help the program to operate.
Farmlink works with more than 270 farmers and growers across the country. Farmers with excess produce of any quantity can contact them to donate their surplus. Farmlink hires professional truck drivers who can move produce to and from any part of the country within two days. All shipping and logistics costs are covered by Farmlink, and they will also help farmers maximize their tax benefits.
Thus far in 2023, 177 organizations, including food banks, pantries, churches, trade unions, health clinics, tribal governments, and senior centers, have received Farmlink deliveries. Farmlink first looks at the charities closest to the location of the surplus to be recovered, and food is then delivered based on the recipient organization’s capacity and/or the needs of the geographic area. For example, a food charity that does not have any cold-storage space will not receive produce that requires refrigeration, and a charity based in a region that already grows a lot of vegetables will receive fruits instead.
The ROOT (Running Our Operations Together) Fellowship is a key part of Farmlink’s operations. It is open to students and adults of all ages who are interested in supporting the organization’s cause. The fellowship runs during each academic year and throughout the summer, and qualified fellows are selected through an application process (currently closed for the 2023-2024 school year). Approximately 60 fellows are selected per session. Fellows, who commit to working 10 to 12 hours per week during the school year or up to 40 hours per week in the summer, apply and are selected to support Farmlink in a specific capacity, including researching farms with surplus produce and regions with significant food waste, communications, fundraising, operational product development and improvement, and data analysis.
Mission: To make the world’s abundance of produce accessible to everyone.
Latest project/campaign: Farmlink has recently released the documentary short film Abundance: The Farmlink Story – an official selection of both the 2023 United Nations Association Film Festival and the Port Townsend Film Festival, and a Montauk Film Festival winner – to spread the word about their work and to inspire meaningful conversations about food waste, food insecurity, and sustainability.
Major Funding: Carhartt, Children’s Hunger Fund, Chipotle, Food Forward, Google, Intuit, Kroger Co. Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, McKinsey & Company, Midwest Food Bank, Oxo, PopSockets, Primal Kitchen, Taylor Farms, and United Farm Workers
Annual Budget: Approximately $75 million
Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Only three years after its inception, Farmlink has delivered 130 million pounds of food. Throughout 2022, the organization recovered 42.9 million pounds of food, making 35.7 million meals possible in 340 food-insecure communities and providing $1.3 million in economic relief to farmers and truckers.
In addition to recovering food waste and improving food security, Farmlink also focuses on sustainability. When organic matter like fresh produce is sent to landfills, it releases greenhouse gases. By reducing the amount of food sent to landfills, Farmlink has prevented 180,000 metric tons (approximately 400 million pounds) of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions, which is comparable to emissions produced by flying around the world about 2,000 times in a private jet.
3680 Wilshire Blvd, Ste P04-1590
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Core Programs: Repurposing surplus produce
Number of staff: 22
Number of volunteers: 600+
Areas served: Nationwide
Year Started: 2020
CEO: Ben Collier
Contact Information: https://www.farmlinkproject.org/contact | Phone: 701-515-4769