Fresh Produce: A Powerhouse of Nutrition

October 26, 2022 9:53 am

Perfectly Imperfect Produce

We live and work in an area rich in agriculture, producing millions of pounds of food every year for the state of North Carolina and the nation. Each year, however, an estimated 44 million lbs. of produce goes unharvested in our area.

That’s a lot of food to rescue!

One Potato, Two Potato…

How about 1 Million potatoes? Or cabbage!

2022 has been an incredible year for the Food Bank for produce distribution. To date this year, we’ve distributed 8 Million lbs. of food across our 15 county service area, including 4 Million lbs. of produce. That means that 50% of our distribution (the first time ever in our 40 year history) was fresh nutritious produce!

Some of the most abundant produce the Food Bank receives is both sweet and white potatoes, cabbage, watermelon, apples, green beans, and corn.

What’s On Your Plate, Today?

According to the USDA’s latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans1”, Almost 90 percent of the U.S. population does not meet the recommendation for vegetables, and about 80 percent do not meet recommendations for fruit. A balanced diet includes an appropriate mix of foods from the food groups and subgroups, including a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

“Many of us have heard that eating fruits and vegetables helps to decrease our risk of developing heart disease and cancer and this is true,” says Angie Lamberson, Registered Dietitian, and owner of Nutrition Pair, LLC. “However, the latest research is showing us that they provide us with more immediate benefits such as improving our mood, reducing joint pain, and boosting our brain power. One of the easiest ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diet is to try to include at least one with each meal and snack. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, or even dried–they’re all beneficial.”

Healthy dietary patterns include a variety of vegetables and fruits from all five vegetable subgroups—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other. These include all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried options in cooked or raw forms, including 100% vegetable juices.

From Farm, to Food Bank, to the Table

Food Bank of the Albemarle works with produce partners in each of the 15 counties we serve to rescue produce that is perfectly edible and nutritious, but considered unsellable in the commercial market. These are produce items that may be a slightly different, color, shape, or weight than what most consumers buy at the grocery store.

Farmers and growers that donate this unsellable food receive a receipt from the Food Bank for a tax deduction. In most cases, a driver from the Food Bank goes to the farmer and picks up bins of produce, where it’s weighed on-site. Then the produce is either brought back to Food Bank for sorting, or delivered directly to the nearest hunger-relief partner for giving out to neighbors in need of food assistance.

Food Bank of the Albemarle also relies heavily on volunteers to help sort and bag this produce into manageable quantities. Each year, our volunteers give a combined total of over 8,000 hours to help!

The 50% increase of produce distribution would not be possible without the dedicated work of our local agricultural partners, and partner agencies. Here are just a few of the new programs and highlights brought more fresh produce to the plates of hungry people this year.

  • Jimmy Mizzel Farms in Bertie County participated in a pilot program to intentionally plant 15 crops on his farm for Food Bank of the Albemarle. In return, the Food Bank paid for supplies, labor and produce.
  • Beech Fork Farms, partnered with The Food Bank of the Albemarle to capture all of his #2 watermelons this season.
  • Corey Farms allowed us to capture all of his #2 sweet potatoes, about a tractor trailer load per week, he more than doubled his pounds from last year.
  • Pamlico Shores Produce, donates potatoes, onions and broccoli each year to the Food Bank.
  • W.B. Bateman, for the second year has allowed us to capture his #2, B size potatoes.
  • Fereebe Farms, is a long-standing Food Bank partner and donates loads of potatoes each year.
  • Allen Acres is a new donor with the Food Bank this year providing watermelon, yellow squash, green squash and sweet corn.

What’s in Store (age) for the Future?

The Food Bank has developed a strategic plan with four main areas of focus: Feed, Nourish, Empower, and Unite.

Our Food Bank leadership team and staff are working daily to ensure the growth of the organization, and that our hunger-relief partners have the tools and resources necessary for their growth as well.

No family should have to worry about enough food. Seniors should have access to nutritious food, and not skip meals to pay for essential medicines. Our veterans deserve the dignity of a full plate. Our children need quality, healthy food to grow and become the leaders of tomorrow.

  1. Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025,

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