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An initiative that aims to revolutionize the way food banks work with produce growers and to help them secure millions of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetable donations for Americans in need was announced at the 2015 FMI/GMA Global Sustainability Summit in Denver.
The company behind the initiative is Food Cowboy, which uses mobile technology to route surplus food from wholesalers and restaurants to food banks and soup kitchens instead of landfills. Food Cowboy aims to partner with reusable packaging companies to create a self-funding solution to food waste.
Nearly 4 billion pounds of fresh produce is rejected at loading docks each year, often due to damage incurred in transit. Growers would prefer to donate that food but often cannot find local food banks in time. When they do, the charities are often closed or lack sufficient cold storage capacity.
Growers increasingly are shipping fresh produce in leased Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) and on high-quality CHEP and PECO pallets. The approximately 100 million RPCs in circulation take the place of 400 million single-use cardboard boxes each year while the CHEP and PECO pallets help replace nearly 80 million single-use pallets.
Beginning this fall, when growers use Food Cowboy to donate food, the RPC and pallet companies will pay Food Cowboy a small fee to track their goods. Food Cowboy will pay the food banks a small fee to store them until they can be retrieved. The funds will help food banks build more cold storage capacity and extend their hours of operation so they can work more efficiently with growers and other supply chain companies.