Farm Food Facts

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Marilyn Hershey, Feeding America

November 26, 2019
Farm Food Facts
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Marilyn Hershey, Feeding America
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Marilyn Hershey, Feeding America
Nov 26, 2019
USFRA
Show Notes Transcript

Today's Thought Leader is Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America's CEO.

The Stories you NEED to know:
• Paris is opening the world’s Largest urban Rooftop Farm
• Recent Study cites the Pork Industry’s strides in Sustainability
• Agronomist advises producers: Don’t neglect pasture needs during harvest

Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of Dairy Management inc.



Phil:
0:01
Farm Food Facts where every farmer, every acre and every voice matter. Welcome to Farm Food Facts for November 27th, 2019 I'm your host Phil Lempert. Remember to watch the new short film from USFRA, 30 harvests to see just how farmers provide a source of healthy food while addressing environmental concern for current and future generations. Go to U S farmers and ranchers.org to view this impactful and heartfelt film. Happy Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we thought it be appropriate to talk with two amazing people that are part of feeding America the network of food banks. That is the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. Later in the podcast, we'll be joined by Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of Dairy Management inc, but first people who live in urban areas often face hunger at higher rates in part because of the unique challenges living remotely presents. That's where feeding America comes in. Claire Babineaux-Fontenot is with us from feeding America. She's the CEO and good to talk to us about what we all need to be doing as farmers, as retailers, as consumers, for preparing for this Thanksgiving and beyond. Claire, welcome to Farm Food Facts.
Claire:
1:25
Well, thank you so much for having me.
Phil:
1:27
Give us an overview of feeding America exactly what you're doing and talk about this dire need that you had feeding America are fulfilling.
Claire:
1:37
Sure. So thanks so much for giving me an opportunity to speak to you on behalf of our network. I network includes 200 food banks around the United States and over 60,000 food pantries. We have a vast network. We have 2 million volunteers around the U S as well, where we are in every County where there is food insecurity in the country, which means we are in every County in the country. Even the richest counties in this country have people inside of it facing food insecurity. So what we do is a variety of things. One, we actually provide foods to people facing hunger. By the way, let me give you a few stats on that. Over 4 billion pounds of food to people facing hunger every year in this country. We also really focus energy on making certain that the food that we provide is increasingly nutritious, so an atrocious mix of food is something we emphasize.
Claire:
2:44
We have research scientists inside of our organization and those scientists helped us to test and learn about many things. For instance, I was talking about a nutritious mix of foods. We've learned things about how food a particular family might need, what the mix of that food needs to be as well to produce really positive medical outcomes. We know that the most significant and chronic of the medical challenges facing people in America and specifically facing the approximately 40 million people who who are food insecure in the country, that each of those like for instance diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, that each of those, there's all kinds of science that shows that food is a great part of a prescription for people who were struggling with those chronic diseases. So we put in a lot of energy into into ensuring that people have that healthy mix of foods at their disposal.
Claire:
3:50
In addition to that when a lot of people wouldn't understand that we do. And I'm so proud of the fact that among our member who had banks and agencies, many of them do this, we even work on things like workforce development as a significant part of our work is designed to say that we have a duty to make certain that we feed the line and we also have a duty to do the things that we can to shorten the line. So we have members and parts of our network that are focused on both parts of that equation for people facing hunger. So big network, a lot of people doing really important work and focusing our energies on people who really need our help.
Phil:
4:30
So Claire, what, what I'm hearing from you is obviously we have this huge network out there. You've made a commitment to help people, not only by feeding them, but giving them good nutritious food that can help ward off diseases, help train them. What we hear in the headlines though constantly is the 40% of all food in this country is wasted. So how do we get that huge amount of food, that 40% of food to feeding America into your distribution network to feed America?
Claire:
5:05
Wow. Well thank you for sharing that statistic. It's one of the things that on the surface it makes me probably the most upset. And on the other side of it I think, you know, it gives me some optimism. So this is really a solvable challenge. It is a solvable challenge. So I'll give you a little sad. And you talked about that 40% statistic that I tend to focus my energy on is the fact that 72 billion pounds of perfectly edible food goes to landfills every year. And that does not count household waste. So the good news is feeding America is the largest food waste recovery organization in the United States. We recover about 3.5 a little, a little more than 3.5 billion pounds of that weight. And we match up the fact that rather than send this perfectly edible food to landfill, we make certain that we do everything that we can to get that food to people who are facing hunger. In the country. So we already have an apparatus in place that helps with that delivery. The more people understand about the challenge, the more people understand all the implications associated with that food going to waste. I think the better able we will be to even do more. So we have line of sight on being able to get to 4 billion pounds recovered in the near term. And we can do even more than that with the partnership of people like your listeners.
Phil:
6:35
So how, how do you work with farmers, retailers, consumer packaged goods companies? I know that you know a lot of the consumer packaged goods companies, the brands, if you buy, you know, certain products, they'll donate money to feeding America to, to help you. But you know, give us, give us the idea of how more people can work with feeding America and what you're looking for them to do.
Claire:
7:03
Excellent. So if you don't mind, I'll divide my answer into two parts. So the first one is what does a partnership with us look like for major company? In answer to that question, it takes a lot of forms. So, for instance, we have direct relationships with manufacturers and when those manufacturers have food that they can't sell for some reason, they connect with our network and get that food out to people facing hunger. We have direct relationships with retailers so that when certain foods don't sell, but they're still perfectly edible, we pick them up at the resale site and we get them out to pantries and make certain that people facing hunger are able to benefit from that. We also have the things that you just alluded to, so we have various partnerships where the public gets a chance to actively participate in our work by buying a particular product and having a portion of that product go to people facing hunger.
Claire:
8:01
So lots of major retailers participate in that. Lots of manufacturers participate in that work with us as well. So that's the first half of it. So how are major companies working with feeding America? And I'm very proud of the long list of major companies who do work with us. And I ask your listeners to please look out for those companies because they're making significant investments in the most vulnerable members of our society. So that's one thing. On the other side of it, what I tend to ask people to do is, number one, educate yourself. If you go to feeding america.org we have a whole lot of information there and whatever it is that you care passionately about, whichever demographic really resonates with you, we can give you information about what's happening with that particular demographic and how you can activate and learn more and then do more.
Claire:
8:53
So first step, educate. The second step I'd say is you can also go to feeding america.org to find this, find your local food pantry and are your local food bank because hunger lives everywhere in America. Every County we touch every single County, so maybe this year at Thanksgiving you're not going to be able to go home this year are to your hometown. The great thing about affiliating with our network is you can go on the website, you can find, well what's the closest food bank to you and that serves your hometown and you can find a way to donate to that local food bank and it's a way of giving back to the community that you were born in. If you have a new hometown and you want to feel like a part, a contributing member of that community, we'll find the food bank that's in the community that you live in now because they're serving that community.
Claire:
9:45
You can serve along with them and activate in that way. So you can donate money, you can donate food and you can donate your time. I said, we have 2 million volunteers around the United States. I encourage your listeners to become one of them. We clearly haven't 100% cracked the code on this challenge. We need as much help as we can get from as much people as are willing to help us. So educate and then donate time and resources. And then the final one is to advocate. One of the most important responsibilities that I feel that I have in my role as CEO feeding America is to serve as a voice for people who don't get the opportunities to participate in forums like this. So I'm an advocate for people facing hunger. I encourage the people who are listening in on this podcast to become advocates for people facing hunger as well as influences all around them.
Claire:
10:40
What's your position on how we can help people who are facing hunger and then expect them to have a good answer to that question? So those are the things that I would recommend. Now, something else, I'm concerned that I'm going to forget to do this and I cannot, I cannot miss the opportunity to do this. So please indulge me. Of course. Of course. You mentioned farmers. Farmers in this country are the bedrock of this country and so many farmers are doing so much already to help people facing hunger. And I've gotten to see it firsthand and I know a lot of things get politicized these days. But the thing that doesn't is about half of the people who support our work self identify as Democrats are progressive. About half of the people who support our work self identify as conservatives are Republicans. It's a 100% issue. I'm a product of remarkable generosity in this country.
Claire:
11:40
There's no way that a person would. My background gets to do the things I've gotten to do any place other than here. So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who helps us and I want to especially say thank you to farmers. I get to witness firsthand what it means to receive some fresh produce with some kids who've never seen that produce before. I've seen it, I've been there. I remember vividly being in the Bronx at a mobile pantry site where that particular food bank is, which is called the food bank or New York. I was there with them and we went out inside of a community and set up this booth. And in the booth we had all of this remarkable produce. And I remember seeing a little kid there who was asking her mom, what is this? And it was the first time she'd ever seen kale and it was beautiful.
Claire:
12:32
And then right there, right next to where they were from, mom was provided an opportunity to understand how to use kale, how to make kale taste spree. And she and her daughter got to eat the kale in this salad that this young woman repaired for them. And it was one of the most powerful and positive experiences that I've had in my little over a year since I've been in this job. And when I was in that moment I was thinking the American farmer. So I needed to make sure that I got a chance to say thank you to the American farmer. What you do is making a difference for people facing hunger in this country right now. So as I think about the people who are on my list to say thank you to this year at Thanksgiving, farmers are high on top of that list and I'm so excited that I got a chance to do that. So thanks for indulging me. But it was really important to me that I got to do that.
Phil:
13:24
I agree. And that's what it's all about. And Claire, keep up the fabulous job that you're doing. Again, I want to reemphasize, you know what you said, whether it be a farmer or a retailer, a brand, get out there, support feeding America. This is very important work for all of us and if we look over centuries of discontent in the world, a lot of it has to do with people going hungry and we can't afford to take that direction here in the U S so Clara, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for joining us on farm food facts today.
Claire:
14:02
Thank you so much for having me. You guys have a great Thanksgiving
Phil:
14:09
And now for the news you need to know. Parrish is opening the world's largest urban rooftop farm and urban farm is being built in France that will supply residents with a ton of food today, literally a ton. A Paris expo. Port Diversey is in the process of being renovated and it's poised to become home to the world's largest urban rooftop farm. The 14,000 square meters of space, which is approximately the size of two football fields, will be packed with around 30 different types of plants. Visitors of the farm will have the option to purchase produce as well as sample in the rooftop restaurant. The farm also plans to host educational tours and various events. Citizens will have the opportunity to rent for growing their own crops similar to a community garden. Urban farming is a trend increasing in popularity. In fact, Agora Polis, the company behind the farm venture is already running other rooftop farms around France and the founder, Pascal Hardy wants the other urban spaces to join in as well.
Phil:
15:11
He States our vision is in a city in which flat roofs and abandoned surfaces are covered. With these new growing systems. Each will contribute directly to feeding urban residents and from urban farming. We transitioned into livestock related news. The recent study sites, the pork industry strides in sustainability. Pork producers have made a great effort when it comes to sustainability in their operations and Brett Kaysen and assistant vice president for sustainability for the national pork board has the data to back up this claim. Hasten reports that an analysis released earlier this year indicates the industry has made notable progress in becoming more efficient. This study from the university of Arkansas reports that over a 55 year period from 1960 to 2015 75% less land with needed to produce a pound of pork in the U S in addition, 25% less water was needed and 7% less energy. This resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint and and says, this is just the beginning.
Phil:
16:13
This study used a comprehensive lifestyle assessment approach and use the best available methodology along with the field to farm gate approach. This means including material and energy flows associated with the full supply chain, beginning with the extraction of raw materials through production of live market weight pigs, including marketed cells, and unlike previous studies, this research accounts for global warming potential and the use of dried distillers grains in many swine rations. Overall, there's been a tremendous improvement with efficiencies when it comes to all areas of pork production. Jason Ross, director of the Iowa pork industry center and an extension swine specialist States. We're taking precision agriculture and applying it to livestock production. We need to continue to work to develop and utilize the best strategies that capture the genetic potential of the pig for efficient and sustainable production. Ross believes the pork production will become even more sustainable as producers continue to make changes and with the growing importance of sustainability, we must remember to take care of our soil and agronomist advisors.
Phil:
17:18
Producers don't neglect pasture needs during harvest. Rebecca that has tow and Iowa state university extension. Agronomist in Washington explains the wall. Most farmers tend to focus on harvest in the fall. Pastures should not be neglected. She says that the first step is to have the soil tested. A test will reveal what the pasture is lacking in nutrient quality. She claims we do a pretty good job when it comes to nitrogen, but we need to check where we need the other nutrients. A sample, every 10 acres should be enough to make sure you're everything in the right place and if pastures have been used in hay production, they may require some additional attention. For example, using manure will provide an extra boost to grasses as winter approaches as several pastures were overgrazed the last couple of years due to drought conditions. Erica Lundy and ISU extension beef specialist advises the cow calf producers who stockpile forge should also consider fall fertilization. She says the producers with large amount of fescue in their pastures should monitor the grass carefully to avoid any toxicity issues and also ensure that the grass is not being grazed too low. Lindy says that fertilizing now will result in a boost of pasture growth ahead of a hard frost.
Phil:
18:36
Marilyn Hershey is the chair of dairy management inc and a director on the United dairy industry association board and also serves on the board of the U S farmers and ranchers Alliance Marilyn and her husband Duane own and operate our joy farms LLC, a Pennsylvania family farm nestled about an hour West of Philadelphia. They're long family history of dairy farming is evident as they care for the land. 550 acres and the animals, 800 milking cows and their employees. Environmental stewardship is a priority for the Hershey's and they have many on farm practices that can serve water and soil, reducing their carbon footprint. Maryland, welcome to farm food facts.
Marilyn:
19:15
Thank you. It's great to be here.
Phil:
19:17
So Marilyn, I don't think you know this, but my grandfather is a actually a dairy farmer in Bellville, New Jersey and sitting right on my desk is one of the old glass milk bottles.
Marilyn:
19:28
Oh, that's awesome. Wow, that's great.
Phil:
19:30
Yeah. When I was a kid, the, uh, the dairy farm had already been closed because my grandfather passed away, but I used to play in the then empty barns.
Marilyn:
19:39
Oh, that's awesome. And you have a milk bottle, so that's good.
Phil:
19:42
And I have a, and I also have a milk can, the gallon milk can as well.
Marilyn:
19:47
Oh, that's great.
Phil:
19:48
So, so getting past all that, one of the things that I know is the dairy farmers are committed to solving hunger in spite of having very difficult economic conditions these days. What's the driving force?
Marilyn:
20:01
So the driving force, yes, the economic times that are down but also nourishing and feeding a hungry population. Milk is a great source of protein. It has eight essential vitamins, minerals, an eight ounce glass of milk is full of calcium, vitamin D and potassium. And you know, those are like the top three nutrients that kids need. So when it comes to what we want to do across this country, we want the nourish as many people as possible.
Phil:
20:32
And I know you work very closely with feeding America. Describe that relationship and what are you doing together?
Marilyn:
20:39
So yes, we work on a national level. It is the innovation center for us dairy, the national dairy council and feeding America coming together and we work together to increase access to dairy for the 37 million people who are food insecure across the country. That just, that's just an astounding number of people. One in six are food insecure. And so what we try to do is identify the pocket across the country that we really need to drive solutions, whether it's refrigeration, whether it's storage, you know, there's pockets of food insecure people. There needs to be some solutions. And so the three of us come together and do that. In 2018 we provided 276 million pounds of dairy, the food banks across the country, and it amounted to 686 million servings. So servings included the fluid cheese yogurt. And by June of 2019 we had already passed that figures. So it could be that we are on track to double in 2019 it's a, it's a much greater number in, in 19 and 18
Phil:
21:54
that's fabulous. And, and also I think the most interesting and important point is for a lot of these food insecure people, the dairy products, the milk and the cheese might be their only, you know, quality source of protein that they're getting.
Marilyn:
22:08
Absolutely. And I go back to the incredible source of nutrients that milk, whether it's in form of cheese or form of yogurt or if it's a glass of milk, there's a power packed nutrient value in that dairy. And so, you know, we need to get it, especially children need that protein and there's really, there, there are no other nutrient equivalent to dairy that has that much packed into the source of nutrition for kids.
Phil:
22:41
And also, let's not forget the importance of calcium. It's not just the protein, it's all those nutrients that you talked about. Now as a board member of both DMI and USF RA, how would you like to see the entire supply chain from farm to retail to consumer work together to solve hunger issues around the United States?
Marilyn:
23:02
I would love to see us coming together in providing a greater value of health and wellness to these families and to these kids. Um, and you know, when you look at whether it's fresh produce or, or dairy, you know, milk is one of the most requested foods at food banks. You know, fluid milk, a gallon of milk is not always easy to come by in a food bank. And so how we can come together to provide those fresh foods is just, it just helps us all around and it helps our country, you know, it helps these kids.
Phil:
23:37
So I know that, I think it was last year or maybe earlier this year, you had this campaign fill a glass with hope. What's that about?
Marilyn:
23:45
So on a local level, um, since 2015 we have a program here in Pennsylvania called fill a glass with hope. And it was first kicked off at the Pennsylvania farm show, which runs the first week of January. So we're coming up on, on the big campaign push that will be here in a couple of months, but fill a glass with hope. Really was campaigned and started by Dave Smith who works with the PA Dairymen's association in Pennsylvania. And it is a partnership between feeding Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania dairy men's association, and the American dairy association, Northeast, which is our local checkoff program. And this year we're also expanding "Fill a glass with hope" to the New York state.
Phil:
24:33
I'll tell you, Maryland, you're, you're doing a phenomenal job. Uh, keep up the great work and thank you so much for joining us today on Farm Food Facts.
Marilyn:
24:42
Pleasure to be here.
Phil:
24:44
For more information on all things, food and agriculture, please visit us farmers and ranchers.org. Also be sure to look for us on Facebook at us farmers and ranchers or on Twitter at USF RA. Until next time.
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