I get it; sometimes the bad guys win in the sausage-making process.
But do the good guys have to lose?
In recent years, I’ve used this space many times to sing the praises of Farm Share, a nonprofit genuine good-guy organization whose sole mission is to collect food that would otherwise go to waste and get it into the hands of people who need it.
Farm Share’s heroic work often takes the form of providing emergency provisions after natural disasters like Hurricanes Michael and Irma, after a tragic apartment building fire in Jacksonville, and even during the federal government shutdown.
They even show up to give away food for the holidays.
Often, Farm Share is first on the scene with food and water. During Hurricanes Irma and Michael alone, they distributed more than 3 million pounds of life-sustaining food, water and supplies to the hardest-hit communities in less than two weeks after the storms made landfall.
Farm Share has established itself as such an important partner with the state of Florida that investing in it seems like a no-brainer. Yet, it sustained a $1 million cut last year and is funded even lower in this year’s preliminary House and Senate budgets.
For almost 30 years, Farm Share has been gathering up perfectly good fruits and vegetables that were getting tossed out because they weren’t pretty enough to be sold in stores. This nutritious food is combined with other donations and distributed, free of charge, to hungry families throughout Florida. The organization hands out more than 88 MILLION pounds of food annually.
Unlike most food nonprofits, Farm Share never, ever charges anyone for produce, nonperishable goods and other items. That means they can serve the poorest of the poor.
“Food insecurity is real. In the shadow of the Capitol and all throughout the state, countless children and their families go to bed hungry every night,” says Rick Owen, President of United Way of Florida. “The United Way ALICE report speaks directly to the need for programs that feed those in poverty and at the edge of poverty. Legislators should see Farm Share as a smart and vital investment.”
For every dollar it receives in donations, Farm Share can donate 10 pounds of food to a Florida family. Without Farm Share around, countless Florida families in need would go hungry, and tons of healthy food would go to waste.
Even Florida TaxWatch, the noted watchdog over how state dollars are spent, agrees that funding for Farm Share is a good deal for the state.
“Funding for Farm Share is one of the better deals the state gets for its money. There aren’t many other programs that do so much for so many, for so little — their return on investment is really something every government-supported program should aim for,” says Dominic Calabro, the group’s president and CEO.
Government can’t do it all, and a private partner with a proven track record like Farm Share can fill the gap.
Hopefully, budget negotiators will see the light and grow back the state’s investment in a high-impact program like this one.