Indiana farmers are being asked to sell surplus or blemished produce to food banks. (Virginia Carter)

Indiana farmers are being asked to sell surplus or blemished produce to food banks. (Virginia Carter)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Crops are coming in all over the Midwest, and since Indiana is home to more than 60,000 farms, food banks are hoping to be able to get fresh, healthy produce to hungry people in the state. The Farm to Food Bank program is looking for growers who have surplus or blemished produce that they can buy at low cost to donate to shelters and pantries.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said they work with farm organizations to distribute donations, but they’re also looking for small growers who’d like to help.

“To take that food off the hands of the producers, what they would ordinarily be turning over or leaving in the field, and then taking that healthy nutritious produce and distributing it through the ten food member banks and the thousand some agencies that they provide food to,” she said.

Weikert Bryant said it’s a win-win because farmers get paid for what they’d normally not be able to sell and food banks can pay below wholesale prices for Indiana-grown surplus.

Weikert Bryant also said the big winners are those who can’t afford to feed their families.

“It’s going out to people who are at risk of hunger, Hoosiers that we’re serving through Indiana’s food banks, and it’s making that connection between local produce, local farmers and consumers,” she added.

More than 15 percent of Indiana’s residents were food insufficient last year, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center. This put Indiana in the middle among states at 22nd in the nation. The farm-to-table program is funded through the department of Agriculture and through private donations.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN