The FruitGuys GoodWorks Program had a record year in 2017, donating more than two million servings of fresh fruit to hungry people across the country and providing fruit to first responders and victims of multiple natural disasters.
The FruitGuys was founded in the kitchen of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco in 1998 with the goal of providing healthy snacking options to local companies’ employees during the workday. Still family owned and operated after 20 years in business, The FruitGuys now uses our resources to help communities wrestling with hunger and support small American farms.
“I have a deep-seated belief that if you’ve been lucky enough to succeed in business, you have a responsibility to try to make the world a better place and help others succeed,” says Chris Mittelstaedt, The FruitGuys founder and CEO. “I’m very thankful for our customers, whose business allows us to grow our GoodWorks program and fulfill this mission. But there’s always more to do.”
The FruitGuys GoodWorks program supports small farms and fights hunger through direct donations of produce from our warehouses and from generous FruitGuys clients via our Donate-a-Crate program. The FruitGuys Community Fund is the nonprofit arm of the program and supports sustainable agriculture through its annual grant cycle. In 2017, it awarded more than $42,000 to 10 farms across the country.
Donations by the Numbers
Direct Donations: The FruitGuys has a zero-waste policy: all excess fruit is donated to local food banks, charities, and organizations that fight hunger in the communities we serve. St. Anthony’s Dining Room in San Francisco was our first direct-donation recipient in 2000 and continues to be our partner. In 2017, we provided 2,245,184 servings of fresh fruit that were delivered to people in need via food banks and nonprofits in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and New York areas. Lovin’ Spoonfuls Food Rescue, a hunger relief organization in Boston, received nearly 55,000 servings of fruit thanks to direct donations from The FruitGuys and client-donated fruit via our Donate-a-Crate program.
“In 2017 alone, we collected [enough] fruit from The FruitGuys to distribute across seven nonprofit agencies that feed hungry people each week,” saysid Katy Jordan, communications director for Lovin’ Spoonfuls. “It’s meaningful partnerships with companies like The FruitGuys that enable us to do the consistent work that we do. That is, keep fresh, healthy food out of landfills, and help alleviate hunger in our communities.”
Donate-a-Crate: Many FruitGuys clients generously forward their holiday-scheduled fruit deliveries to charities through our Donate-a-Crate program. In 2017, a total of 563 crates—more than 29,000 servings of fruit—were sent to nonprofit organizations in clients’ local communities. One of these recipients is Family House, a San Francisco organization that serves as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
“The fresh fruit donated by The FruitGuys clients via their Donate-a-Crate program makes a huge difference for Family House,” says CEO Alexandra Morgan. “Having delicious, healthy fruit options encourages all family members to eat better, and takes the stress off parents of wondering what to make for breakfast when they’re focused on getting their sick child to the hospital. Thank you, FruitGuys and clients, for being incredible community partners!”
Disaster Relief: We support first responders and victims of natural disasters with fruit donations. Unfortunately, 2017 was a record year for natural disasters. Many of our clients, farmers, and their employees and customers were affected in Texas and across California. When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston with floodwaters, The FruitGuys team in Dallas organized a matching fruit-crate drive to increase the number of servings being donated to the North Texas Food Bank. Clients there generously donated more than 5,000 servings of fruit to the effort to help their fellow Texans. “You are watching it on TV, talking to friends and people affected down there, and you feel helpless,” says Benjamin Carroll, Texas operations manager for The FruitGuys. “This was a great way to put my energy into helping those in need. The mantra around here became ‘Texans helping Texans,’ which is really what we did.”
2017 donations included:
Hurricane Harvey relief: 11,076 servings of fruit, half of which were donated by Texas clients
Northern California fire relief: 4,417 servings of fruit
Southern California fire relief: 500 servings of fruit
2017 Sustainable Farm Projects Take Root
Ten small American farms and agricultural nonprofits received a total of $42,913 in funding in 2017 for sustainable farm projects.
The FruitGuys Community Fund has awarded more than $167,000 to 41 small farms since 2012. Farms and nonprofits may apply for grants (up to $5,000) for sustainability projects that have positive impacts on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity. The 2017 projects ranged from installing rainwater catchment systems to planting native perennial hedgerows and were given to the following farms: Chicago Patchwork Farms (Chicago, IL); Foxtrot Organic Farm (St. Charles, IL); Byars Family Farm (Ardmore, OK); Songbird Farm (Unity, ME); Bertrand Farm (Niles, MI); Soil Born Farms (Rancho Cordova, CA); Marsteller Farm (Freeland, MD); The Growing Club | Sarvodaya Farms (Pomona, CA); Blackhawk Courts Farm and Garden (Rockford, IL); and Urban Tree Connection | Neighborhood Foods Farm (Philadelphia, PA).
Benefits of the 2017 projects are already being reported. For instance, Chicago Patchwork Farms, a no-till, organic, and bio-intensive half-acre urban farm in Chicago, IL, used their $5,000 grant to purchase an ice maker, solar panels, and a lean-to structure, as well as extra coolers and compost.
“Yields are up because of our new 750-square-foot growing space. Since we started freezing our own ice, we have reduced our weekly expenditures by $60. By reusing ice packs that are cooled using solar electricity instead of buying bags of ice, we have been able to cut down on our energy usage as well as eliminate the waste of plastic bags. We also save staff time by having ice ready on the farm,” farmer Elise Robison says. “Having a permanent lean-to structure has also allowed us to eliminate the staff time we used to set up and break down shade structures on harvest days. Customers to our farm stand have doubled this year, and we have enough ice to keep our expanded production and market days fresh and cool!”
The FruitGuys Community Fund is one of the only small grant programs available to farmers in the United States. Want to help save a farm? Click here to donate. Want to get involved? Volunteer now for our Grant Review Committee and help decide in March which sustainability projects will be funded in 2018.
Sheila Cassani is The FruitGuys GoodWorks Ambassador.