Tempe, nonprofit, crowd-funding, grocery stores, farmers, donate perishable food items, Buck Truck, Tempe Leadership, United Food Bank, Mesa, Ed Baker, Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Lisa Pino, Arizona
A Tempe-based nonprofit is utilizing the power of crowd-funding to enable grocery stores and farmers to donate perishable food items.
Buck Truck, a project of this year’s Tempe Leadership team, is accepting donations for refrigerated delivery trucks to the United Food Bank in Mesa.
The United Food Bank currently relies on donations from canned-food drives and retailers. The donations from retailers are limited, however, as the United Food Bank lacks the ability to transport food that requires refrigeration for freshness.
“You want to provide the best food to those you’re trying to help,” said Ed Baker, a member of this year’s Tempe Leadership team. “The best foods for people to live a healthy life are fresh, perishable foods.”
The Tempe Leadership Program, a product of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, has been around since 1985 and each year puts together a team of community-centric individuals for nine months to engage in a project that can cover a range of community services.
“When we sat down to decide what our project would be, it was brought up that United Food Bank has a difficult time accepting fresh food,” Baker said. “We thought, ‘If only we could get 10 or 15 people to donate for a refrigerated truck.’”
The final decision was the concept of Buck Truck, to which contributors are encouraged to donate $1, $10 or $15.
The goal is to raise $41,000 for trucks that can “deliver fresh vegetables and meats from local farmers, ranchers, suppliers and grocery stores” as opposed to non-perishable items typically collected by charities in canned-food drives.
The Buck Truck website states that the refrigerated food truck will allow 24,000 pounds of what previously would have been wasted food to be distributed monthly, which it notes equates to 20,000 fresh meals.
“Buck Truck is very important because it will allow us to provide fresh produce and lean protein to our 200 partners,” said Lisa Pino, president and CEO of United Food Bank. “It’s the food you need for a healthy, adequate diet.”
The importance of Buck Truck is not only to increase the quality of food being served to those in need, but also the quantity, as Arizona is currently scarce in resources to serve what she explained is one of the hungriest states in the country, said Pino.
“The Buck Truck is nimble and responsive to Arizona’s hunger needs,” she said.
Arizona is tied as the worst state for childhood hunger, and is fifth worst in food insecurity (limited access to adequate food sources), according to statistics cited on the United Food Bank website.
As well as helping absolve statewide hunger, Pino noted a collateral benefit of Buck Truck is also contributing to helping reduce food waste.
“A theme of sustainability is key for us,” Pino said. “We want to eliminate food waste and engage more young people on the issue.”