A retailer, a grower and a food bank are getting more quality fresh produce flowing into under-served communities throughout the Washington metro region. BrightFarms has begun donating greens directly to the Capital Area Food Bank through a partnership brokered by Giant Food, the exclusive regional retailer of BrightFarms’ products.
“Getting moms, dads, and families access to fruits and vegetables is critical for the health of the communities we’re serving,” says Nancy E. Roman, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank. “Strong and innovative partnerships like this one are a big part of how we’re doing that.”
To kick off the donation partnership, BrightFarms brought over 6,400 pounds of fresh arugula, spring mix and lettuce greens to the Capital Area Food Bank. Sourced directly from the 150,000 square-foot BrightFarms Capitol Greenhouse in Elkwood, Va., the greens will soon be in the homes and on the plates of area families who lack the resources needed to purchase food, particularly fruits and vegetables.
"Our donation to CAFB is part of an ongoing partnership dedicated to improving the health of the local community through access to just-harvested, locally grown produce," says Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms. "By growing produce in our state-of-the-art greenhouse in Northern Virginia, we are able to provide both Giant and the CAFB with the freshest herbs, tomatoes and baby greens on a year-round basis. We look forward to continuing to support the CAFB in their efforts to give people access to good, healthy food."
The Capital Area Food Bank provides food to 540,000 area residents —12 percent of the region’s total population. Of those it serves, nearly half have high blood pressure or live with someone who does; another quarter are diabetic or living with a diabetic. The health concerns of its clients have prompted the food bank to emphasize the sourcing and distribution of produce, particularly given that 70 percent of households served by the CAFB reported “purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy” food as the common coping strategy to hunger in a 2014 study. In 2015, fully one-third of all food distributed by the CAFB was fresh fruits and vegetables.
Weekly donations of ready-to-eat greens delivered directly from the BrightFarms greenhouse will help the CAFB continue to provide a balanced offering of foods to those it reaches, contributing to community wellness. The support of BrightFarms also deepens the food bank’s partnership with Giant Food—the exclusive Washington-area grocery retailer of BrightFarms produce—which the CAFB named its first Retailer for Wellness.
“Giant Food is consistently looking for ways we can help provide access to healthy food for those who are food insecure in our region,” says Gordon Reid, president of Giant Food of Landover, MD. “This donation from BrightFarms shows the impact organizations can have when they come together to help our neighbors in need throughout this region.”
As the most productive and sustainable source of baby greens in DC and Virginia, BrightFarms’ greenhouse positions it as the largest East Coast producer of year-round baby greens. BrightFarms will grow nearly one million pounds of baby greens, basil and tomatoes in its greenhouse per year to supply 169 Giant Food and 1 Martin's supermarkets, as well as leading online grocery service Peapod, in Virginia, Maryland, DC and Delaware. As with all BrightFarms' greenhouses, its produce is pesticide and GMO free.