2020 was a terrible year and yet the generosity of our community allowed us to bring healthy food to nearly two million people: neighbors in need, frontline healthcare workers, and public school kids and families.
Buying your fruit from us on a regular basis helps our family-owned and operated B Corp business support the small farms we partner with and the non-profits we donate to for hunger relief.
Since our founding in 1998, The FruitGuys has donated excess and blemished fruit and produce each week to community organizations that feed hungry people. During the last 23 years, we have expanded our GoodWorks program to include a way for clients to forward their orders to local charities and schools via our Donate-a-Crate initiative; a non-profit, The FruitGuys Community Fund, that provides grants with big impacts for sustainability to small farms nationwide; and a non-profit, The FoodWorks Fund, that turns 100% tax deductible donations into family-sized boxes of fruits and vegetables or grab n’ go bags of fruit distributed through our network of community partners. Read our 20-year Impact Report.
It’s very exciting that even in a year like 2020, we were still able to provide grants to farms, we were still able to donate to feed the hungry, and we were able to come up with innovative ways to get food to hungry kids at schools and to neighbors in need through donations to our hunger relief partners”
Said Chris Mittelstaedt, founder and CEO of The FruitGuys, adding, “Everyone in this company has been exemplary in keeping the business running and helping people and doing good in the world.”
We are especially grateful to our clients who stuck with us through 2020; our employees; our farm partners and vendors; and our community partners; as well as individuals who donated generously in a year when so many people’s personal incomes were negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Here are some of the ways we made a difference together in 2020:
Hunger Relief Donations By Program
Clients and individuals forwarded their deliveries or purchased fruit to send to people in need through our national network of hunger relief partners and school meal
distribution sites, or to a charity of their choice. A shout out to the clients who maintained their regular weekly orders even though their offices were closed and forwarded those boxes to those in need.
In 2020, a record-breaking 8,116 boxes were delivered to food banks and pantries. These fed more than 470,000 neighbors in need.
“I wanted to reach out and thank you for the generosity you have shown to our organization and community this year. We have been able to incorporate local ingredients that increase the variety and nutrition of our meals,” said Jessica Pham, community engagement coordinator at FareStart, a Seattle non-profit whose mission is to transform lives, disrupt poverty, and nourish communities. “We want you to know that your support makes a big difference, not only to those we serve meals to, but also to the youth and adult students enrolled in our culinary training programs.”
FareStart is just one of many community partners that has benefitted from clients forwarding their fruit through the Donate-a-Crate program.
Fruit For Heroes campaign
At the outset of the pandemic, many office fruit delivery clients asked The FruitGuys to send gifts of healthy food to hospitals and healthcare workers, school meal distribution sites, and food banks.
From March-July of 2020, FruitGuys clients and hundreds of individuals gifted fruit that fed more than 500,000 people across the country through the Fruit for Heroes campaign. Deliveries were made to hospitals across the country where nurses, doctors, and first line staff were able to enjoy healthy snacks.
The FoodWorks Fund
In August 2020, we established a new non-profit to address the unprecedented hunger crisis in America. Each month, The FoodWorks Fund turns 100% tax-deductible donations into boxes with a week’s worth of fresh fruits and vegetables or grab n’ go fruit bags and delivers them through our network of hunger relief community partner organizations that immediately distribute them to those in need. By including some of their produce in these boxes, the program also helps small farms who have lost business due to the pandemic.
From August-December 2020, the FoodWorks Fund fed 4,700 people in need.
In addition to individual donors, a number of companies choose to support The FoodWorks Fund through their internal philanthropic endeavours.
“Partnering with The FruitGuys FoodWorks Fund program allowed Trek Freight to direct its holiday community outreach efforts to support local growers and food insecure communities simultaneously in this time of greatest need,” said Carol Madock, human resources director at Trek Freight Services, a logistics services company in the Chicago area.
We enthusiastically recommend the FoodWorks Fund to all companies out there trying to make a difference in the battle to confront hunger.”
In response to the needs of our community partners, we developed three different products to best serve them: boxes of mixed fruits and vegetables that will serve a family of 4-6 people for a week; grab n’ go bags with 3-4 pieces of fruit for organizations that serve unhoused people; and bulk produce for those organizations that prefer to repack.
“We at North Beach Citizens, are so grateful for the grab n’ go bags we receive from FruitGuys! Being able to offer fresh nutritious food to those most in need means that no one has to go hungry or make impossible choices between buying food or meeting rent,” said Kristie Fairchild, executive director of North Beach Citizens, a San Francisco non-profit founded by Francis Ford Coppola to help homeless neighbors in the North Beach neighborhood find housing, food, opportunities, and community.
Thank you for all of your good work in the community.”
“Receiving these 18-20 pound mixed fruit and vegetable boxes from The FoodWorks Fund allows Project Open Hand to support terminally and critically ill clients that are homebound,” said Michael McCormick, director of operations for Project Open Hand in San Francisco.
Receiving these ready-to-go boxes is a huge operational relief and provides those in need with high quality produce in this unprecedented time.”
FruitGuys Weekly Fruit Donations
Since our business began in 1998, The FruitGuys’ regional hubs have donated imperfect and excess fruit weekly to local community partner organizations.
In 2020, Fruitguys weekly fruit donations fed 1 million people in need via food banks and community organizations.
“Your generosity makes it possible for Philabundance and our 350 partner agencies to serve some 90,000 of our Delaware Valley neighbors experiencing hunger every week,” said Elizabeth Sanon, manager of food acquisition at Philabundance, a Philadelphia non-profit food bank and member of the Feed America network. The FruitGuys has been making weekly donations to them since 2007.
Your donations play an important role in our ability to provide a wide selection and variety of healthy, nutritious food to those we serve.”
The FruitGuys Community Fund: Empowering Small Farms for a Better Future
The FruitGuys Community Fund was founded in 2012 to provide grants to small farms for sustainability projects that have a large positive impact on the environment,
local food systems, and farm diversity. We are one of the only grant programs for small projects (up to $5,000) in the country.
In 2020, 15 small farms were awarded a total of $51,098.87 in grant funding to implement projects such as natural pest management, renewable energy projects, seed saving, and more. During COVID-19, small farms have shown once again just how essential they are to keeping our local communities fed, healthy, and functioning. Despite the pandemic, our 2020 grantees were able to complete sustainability projects bettering their farms and their communities.
Despite funding setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The FruitGuys Community Fund, was pleased to support an amended 2021 grant cycle. A majority of funds were directed to those farmers most vulnerable during this time, including farmers of color, women farmers, and farmers who are veterans. Additionally, these farms are actively increasing low-income food access in an effort to directly contribute to community food security. Meet the 2021 grantees.
If you are interested in supporting our next grant cycle and helping more small farms, please contact Sheila Cassani, mission director.