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Farm to Freezer: Preserving Fresh, Local Food to Nourish the Hungry

Below is a post from Cheryl Kollin.  Cheryl has posted previously for DC Ecowomen about Farm to Freezer.  Please take a minute to read her post and vote for Farm to Freezer’s inclusion at TEDxManahatten 2013.

“We have a wonderful problem!”, Sue Kirk, executive director of Bethesda Cares explained to me as we chatted between sessions of the TEDxManhattan 2012 viewing party. It was just ten months ago, that the idea for Farm to Freezer—a partnership between Bethesda Cares and Full Plate Ventures was born.

Now Farm to Freezer is a speaker finalist in the TEDxManhattan Challenge! If selected, I will speak about Farm to Freezer in New York at TEDxManhattan 2013: “Changing the Way We Eat” a live webcast that will be broadcast to viewing parties world-wide. The winner will be selected by public vote and a panel of judges. Voting is a simple click—no need to register or provide any information; one vote per computer devise. Please share this story and voting opportunity with your friends and colleagues. Voting closes December 15th, so vote today!

Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures will host a FREE TEDxManhattan 2013 local viewing party in Bethesda. Stay tuned on this site for details and how to register to attend the day-long event on February 16, 2013.

The Story of Farm to Freezer

The wonderful problem  that Sue described to me that cold January morning was that Bethesda Cares, a non-profit organization providing social services to homeless in our community, received more fresh produce as the official gleener of a local farmer’s market, than they could use before it spoiled.

Bethesda Cares, whose mission is to move homeless into permanent housing, serves 20,000 meals per year to the homeless population in the Washington DC metro area through a dedicated and caring network of faith-based and community organizations, businesses, and government agencies. In June 2012, Bethesda Cares and Full Plate Ventures launched Farm to Freezer with the generous donation of vegetables from Spiral Path Organic Farm and support from a rich community network of volunteers, churches’ donated kitchen space, and business support. Bethesda Cares’ will use the frozen food in preparing healthier meals for its clients all year long.

In our first 20 weeks, we’ve partnered with 180 volunteers, our county’s pre-release program of residents, a culinary arts training program, and received in-kind donations from local businesses. In our first growing season we gleaned 5,000 lbs. of fresh, organic vegetables. We turned these into 1,500 lbs. of tomato sauce and blanched, roasted and vacuum-sealed packets frozen and ready to incorporate into healthier meals that will serve 2,500 homeless throughout the year.

Our goal is to scale up Farm to Freezer. There is huge potential to glean from other farmers, provide to other feeding programs, and create a job training program. Through the sale of some of the organic tomato sauce and veggies, Farm to Freezer can become a self-supporting social enterprise.

Farm to Freezer Benefits the Whole Community 1). Provides healthier, unadulterated food for Bethesda Cares’ client meals 2). Supports farmers through tax-deductible donations 3). Reduces the amount of waste from farm market surplus 4). Provides community service and job training opportunities 5) Raises community awareness about homelessness, nutrition, and locally-grown food.

Your Vote Counts!

Winning a speaking opportunity at TEDX will provide critical visibility and, hopefully, lead to funding that will support this social enterprise. Vote today! .

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