Since the company’s inception, giving back has been part of The FruitGuys mission. In 1998, we started donating fresh produce to local charities to provide healthy food to those who might not otherwise have access to it. Today, The FruitGuys GoodWorks program supports people, projects, and good health from field to table through direct produce donations, donations from generous FruitGuys clients via our Donate-a-Crate program, and sustainability grants to small farms from The FruitGuys Community Fund, a nonprofit fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.
In 2014, The FruitGuys donated more than 400,000 pounds of fruit to charitable organizations across the country through weekly donations to food pantries.
Each year, The FruitGuys clients generously forward their holiday-scheduled fruit deliveries to charities through our Donate-a-Crate program. In 2014, clients donated 318 crates, totaling more than 12,000 servings of fruit, to nonprofit organizations serving their local communities.
One of these nonprofits is San Francisco’s Family House, which supports the families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. “Parents of seriously ill children often think of themselves last—they’re so focused on the health and well-being of their child. We see parents who sleep just a few hours a night at Family House, and then they’re back to the hospital. Having easy, fresh, healthy snacks are so important for them,” says Susan Neff, development director at Family House.
Family House is a home away from home for families of critically-ill children undergoing treatment at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. All Family House families travel at least 50 miles for treatment, and many are away from home for weeks or months at a time. Family House provides a place to sleep, but also a communal kitchen and living spaces. Families cook together and become a support network for each other. “If the kitchen is the heart of the home, good food like fresh fruit from The Fruit Guys is the lifeblood for these families during the most stressful time of their lives,” said Neff.
Charities in 2014 that received fruit through either direct donations or our generous clients via Donate-a-Crate included: St. Anthony’s Foundation, Project Open Hand, Family House, Inc., and George Mark Children’s House (Bay Area); Grandma’s House of Hope, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County (Southern California); UMOM New Day Centers and Food for the Hungry (Phoenix); the Better Boys Foundation, Launch Out Into the Deep—Cornerstone Christian Center, and New Harvest Christian Fellowship (Chicago area); Boston’s Greater Boston Food Bank, Baltimore’s St. Vincent de Paul, New York’s Food Bank For New York City, and Philadelphia’s Philabundance and Growing Home (East Coast).
”2014 marked a great year of giving. The exceptional support of our clients and the continued commitment that The FruitGuys employees demonstrate every day to our GoodWorks program made it all possible,” said Founder and CEO, Chris Mittelstaedt.
The FruitGuys Community Fund Seeds Sustainable Agriculture
Small American farms and agricultural nonprofits were awarded a total of $30,000 in 2014 from The FruitGuys Community Fund for sustainability projects intended to have a positive impact on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity.
The Community Fund is unique in providing small grants (up to $5,000) that can have big impacts for farms. The 2014 grantees, located in California, Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, are celebrating the construction of beehives and bat boxes, the planting of pollinator hedgerows, and the installation of drip irrigation systems, raised beds, and hoop houses.
“Resources for small farms for environmental and economic sustainability are not well developed,” said Chris Mittelstaedt, founder and board chair of The FruitGuys Community Fund. “We are eager to support sustainability projects for small farms as a way to make America stronger, both economically and environmentally, by supporting the people who feed us and are stewards of the land we all share.”
The FruitGuys Community Fund 2014 Grantees
Bountiful Hope Farms in Monroe, WI, received a $2,750 grant to install a drip irrigation system, hoop houses, and raised beds on a three-acre farm that serves those in need. The nonprofit organization donates 100% of their produce to nine food pantries and one food bank in their local communities.
Clear Spring Farm in Easton, PA, received a $4,000 grant for six beehives and equipment. The 23-acre farm has been in farmer Terry Kromer’s family since the 1930s. The bees will increase crop pollination, provide honey for their CSA, and implement educational opportunities for local students and visitors on the importance of honeybees in agriculture.
Real Food Farm in Baltimore, MD, received a $5,000 grant for soil remediation, pollinator habitat installation, and seed cover crop for a new 1.5-acre urban farm site converted from a vacant lot. The nonprofit is a project of Civic Works, Baltimore’s urban service corps and an Americorps program, that strengthens communities through education, skill development, and community service.
Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living in Pembroke, IL, received a $3,570 grant for a three-acre blueberry patch, beehives, compost system, bat boxes, cabbage moth screen netting system, and support for their urban farm education program. The nonprofit organization is a farm and eco campus in the historic African American township of Pembroke, IL, and a learning center and CSA in Chicago.
Woodleaf Farm in Oroville, CA, received a $2,252 grant to document the biological and economic sustainability of agro-ecosystem farming techniques. Owners Carl Rosato and Helen Atthowe are leaders in farm design that suppresses pests and soil management practices that improve plant health. Their approach to organic orchard management leads to decreasing the use of chemical fertilizer and pest control methods and reduces labor costs. They will share their findings on the research site eOrganic.
Friends of Great Kids Farm in Baltimore, MD, received a $5,000 grant to plant a nursery orchard of low-maintenance, schoolyard-growable fruit trees, brambles, vines, and shrubs in order to supply current and future school garden sites with stock for planting. The nonprofit organization operates a 33-acre farm owned by Baltimore City Public Schools. Farm produce is used by city schools and sold to local restaurants.
Lagier Ranches in Escalon, CA, received a $2,500 grant to install native pollinator hedgerows along the border of a newly planted, 39-acre almond orchard. The 4th-generation family farm has been certified organic since 1997 and their project will serve as a model for establishing native pollinator hedgerows in the area, educating fellow farmers and agriculture students.
Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol, CA received a $5,000 grant to build and install a bat belfry and bat boxes along the perimeter of the farm to help control the destructive codling moth, a night flier, as well as monitor the effectiveness of this strategy. Neighboring farms will be included in moth management education. They also extended a pollinator hedgerow project.
“The drip irrigation system funded by The FruitGuys Community Fund grant made it possible to expand and provide more produce to those in need. We have donated almost 7,000 pounds of produce to nine food pantries and one food bank,” says Melissa Birch, farm manager at Bountiful Hope Farms. “We are so very grateful for the grant; it wouldn’t have been possible without it.”
Want to get more involved?
- Sign up for The FruitGuys Community Fund newsletter
- Join our Volunteer Grant Review Committee. Help decide which projects get funded. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Fund is accepting applications for its 2015 grant cycle until February 16, 2015. Grantees will be announced in April 2015.
Sheila Cassani is The FruitGuys GoodWorks Ambassador.