Stanford students create Farmlink project, a nonprofit that connects farms and food banks

A group of Stanford students created the nonprofit Farmlink, a program that helps farmers connect with food banks, preventing waste and feeding the hungry.
Like many college students, James Kanoff was stunned as he watched how farms had to waste and dispose of crops while people went hungry during the pandemic.

"We saw these images of millions of gallons of milk going to waste and hundreds of thousands of eggs being smashed, entire produce fields that were being plowed under. We just wanted to say, let's connect one farm to our local food bank and if we can do that, that's a model that we can bring the other places," Kanoff said.

It is now a model known as Farmlink. The idea, which was started by a handful of philanthropic students from Stanford, has now expanded into a nationwide movement.

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Food pantries stay busy even in the best of economic times, but the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a spike in demand as millions of people find themselves furloughed, laid off or with businesses that have suffered huge financial blows.

"We are now up to about 100 people who are working on the team and we have about 2,000 volunteers," said Kanoff.

Getting the farmers on board at first was tough.

"They told us, 'Who is going to pay the wage of the farm worker? Do you actually go pick this crop? Who's going to pay for the cost of the packaging? Who's going to pay for this transport, the wage of the truck driver to get it off the farm and into the food bank?'" Kanoff said.

They received small donations from family and friends, rented refrigerated trucks and did a lot of the driving themselves.

Now, this nonprofit is able to hire professional drivers and harvesters.

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FOOD GIVEAWAY: Food Share Ventura County's CEO says the nonprofit has seen its monthly expense of about $50,000 a month skyrocket to about $300,000 for food distribution purposes.

So far, they have donated over 1 million pounds of food.

Something Kanoff has heard from farmers across the country is to stay local when possible.

"If you're a grower, you want to help your local community. It's not right to drive a truck 500 miles down the road when just 30 minutes down the road there's a community that really is in need of help," said Kanoff.

The need for volunteers and donations remain. Kanoff says he sees this as a challenge that won't be leaving us anytime soon.

"Everywhere there's produce we want to work with you. If you're a farmer reach out to us we can help you," Kanoff said.

For more information, visit Farmlink.

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