About four billion dollars worth of produce is imported from Mexico every year at the border of Nogales, Arizona, for distribution around the U.S. and Canada. Much of that food, however, doesn’t make the cut. Thirty to forty million pounds of the fruits and vegetables were being thrown into landfills because it was too scarred, too ripe, or too small.
Fortunately, Yolanda Soto developed a solution.
As executive director of the Borderland Community Food Bank, Soto began salvaging the rejected produce 20 years ago and started to feed families in need. To the three hundred-plus hunger-relief organizations across the US now on Soto’s email list, Borderland can offer $70,000 worth of food at the heftily discounted price of $800 — which adds up to about two cents a pound.
Borderland’s agency distribution program, Produce On Wheels With Out Waste (POWWOW) also presents up to ten million pounds of perishables each year to Arizona communities, churches, and schools who are invited to come and donate ten dollars, and shop for up to sixty pounds of produce. Volunteers sort the produce and box it up for distribution.
To ensure maximum use of the veggies, Borderlands gives any produce that isn’t fit for consumption to nearby farms as compost or animal feed.
It is thanks to determined individuals like Yolanda that hungry families have been provided with healthy, fresh, nutrient rich nourishment that was destined for the landfill.