By sourcing ugly and surplus produce for our boxes, we are not impacting what food banks receive. We source from the 20 billion pounds of produce that currently goes to waste on farms after food banks take what they can. In working with growers across the country, we do everything in our power to ensure that we are not purchasing produce that would otherwise be donated. The food banks in the cities we’re in have confirmed that our sourcing has not affected their supply at all. In fact, the amount of produce they are sourcing from farms has increased over the period Imperfect has been around since 2015.
“Even after our nation’s food banks source and distribute as much as is currently possible, it has been estimated that 20 billion pounds of food is wasted at farms every year. We appreciate that Imperfect Produce is working to reduce the unnecessary waste of wholesome food, expanding awareness of the benefits of a nutritious diet, and creating the opportunity for Americans to get excited about fruits and vegetables – regardless of whether they appear ‘perfect’”. -Linda Nageotte, CEO at Seattle Food Lifeline
“We love that ugly fruit is getting its due and we think it can actually provide more access to fruits and vegetables rather than less” -Jodi Tick, COO at Capital Area Food Bank
To put the 20 billion pound stat into perspective, Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the United States, reported that in 2017 they received 1.47 billion pounds of produce. They let us know that, of that amount, roughly 10% of it comes from farms. With 20 billion pounds still getting wasted each year on farms, we are only scratching the surface of this huge problem of food waste. As Feeding America puts it, “When we stop food waste, we take a big step toward ending hunger.”
Over 4 years, the Imperfect community has recovered 80 million pounds of produce that might have otherwise fallen through the cracks of our food system. While we’re proud of this impact, it’s still only the tip of the iceberg and it certainly isn’t diverting produce from food banks. We work closely with food banks across the country to actively increase the amount of fresh produce they receive and have donated over 3.4 million pounds of produce as of September 2019. And we’re creating a foundation to begin giving grants to other organizations advancing our mission of eliminating food waste and building a better food system for all.
Finally, we’re taking a longer-term view and leading the way on leveraging our position as a growing business to fix two long-standing structural injustices that are at the root of why we have significant hunger in America: income inequality and food accessibility. Most people who go to food banks have jobs -- in many cases, more than one -- but still can’t afford good food because their jobs don’t pay a living wage and because food is too expensive. At Imperfect, we’re helping lead the way on both of these issues by reinventing what good, living-wage jobs look like in the 21st century and through our reduced-cost box program, which ensures that nobody is priced out of good food. As of February 2019, 9,000 low-income families take advantage of our reduced-cost box program, with Imperfect contributing $150,000 every month to subsidize these additional discounts.