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Organic fresh produce –  grown in parking lot planters in Irvine – is helping Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County provide more food to people in the community.


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Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest, said the vegetables produced by a carbon-negative planter system will be sold and delivered within a 10 mile radius to the public to generate a self sustaining revenue stream allowing the nonprofit to purchase even more food for those in need. Half of the revenue from the box sales will go to the farmers hired to work the farm.

“This is our victory garden like the victory gardens that were born out of the second World War and the Depression,” Herrmann said. “Communities should have more hyper local farms and better access to nutritious foods readily available, so that if there ever is a supply chain disruption there’s some resources that are readily available there.”

This Alegría Soxxboxx Farm was begun by a $150,000 grant from Bank of America. It is also part of a partnership with Alegría Fresh, a zero-waste regenerative microfarm, who built the above ground growing system for Second Harvest.

“This little 3,000 square foot farm,” Herrmann said. “That took some 16 parking stalls can generate over 300,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for families throughout the community with this partnership.”

Herrmann said the Alegría Soxxboxx Farm can serve as a model to other food banks across the country to help them generate their own revenue.

“One of the reasons why I jumped into this with both feet is that I believe this is scalable, and not just for other food banks,” he said. “The magic is the social enterprise component, and how we’re able to leverage those monies and put them to work but this is duplicatable.”

“It has legs.”

Every box of produce ordered will allow the food bank to provide 85 pounds of food to those in need. One two pound box of produce is sold for $30 plus delivery and can be ordered online. The produce is harvested on Friday mornings and delivered by 5 p.m the same day through OC Couriers. 

Last week 35 boxes were delivered and this week the nonprofit hopes to deliver 60 boxes, Herrmann said.

Second Harvest has been holding weekly food distributions at Angel Stadium in Anaheim since late March when the Coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to close their doors and leave many without an income.

Week after week as unemployment rates reached record highs, the nonprofit held their distribution to serve the growing need. In February, the food bank moved 2.2 million pounds of food. In May, they moved 5 million pounds.

Now as business begins reopening in Orange County, Second Harvest will hold its last food pantry at Angel Stadium on June 27.

The nonprofit will transition from holding distributions to continue supporting local pantries in Orange County getting food to the people who need it.

“It’s almost like watching a child get up and walk for the first time. We’re going to step back and we’re going to see how the pantries respond and if they can meet the demand that’s still out there with our support.  Our food is just going to pantries instead of us distributing it,” Herrmann said.

When the distribution in Anaheim started, the food bank depended on donations to run it.  In May, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement that would provide the food bank $1.5 million in support through $500,000 installments.

Now the FarmStand will be another way for Second Harvest to supply food to the network of pantries in the fight against food insecurity.

“If for some reason we don’t believe that the pantry network will be able to do that, then we’ll reopen,” Herrmann said. “This is our decision to put the pantry network to task to do what it does best, and that’s to feed the community.”

For anybody in need of food there are pantries across the county handing it out for free.

These include:

Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County 

Saturday from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. at the Honda Center

2695 E Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806

United Across Borders Foundation

Saturday June 20 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the St. Philip Benizi Church. 

235 S Pine Dr. Fullerton, CA 92833

Sikh Center of Orange County

Saturday June 20, 27 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Gurdwara

2514 W Warner Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704

The Vineyard Anaheim Church

Every Wednesday and Thursday from 9-11 a.m.  at the Church. 

5340 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92807

Thursday 3:00-4:00 p.m. 

601 E Valencia Dr, Fullerton, CA 92832

Saturday 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Brookhurst Community Center

2271 Crescent Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

Laguna Food Pantry

Monday-Friday 8:00 am-10:30 am

20652 Laguna Canyon Road Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Yorba Linda Community Center

Every Thursday 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

4501 Casa Loma Avenue Yorba Linda, CA 92886

The Salvation Army Southern California

Monday, Thursday 2-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Friday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

1515 West North Street Anaheim, CA 92801

Or

Wednesday 1-3 p.m.

10200 Pioneer Road Tustin, CA 92782

For more food assistance options visit 211 OC.

If you operate a drive through food pantry in Orange County and would like our newsroom to be aware of your efforts, reach out to Hosam Elattar at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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