Introduction to The Farmlink Project

 

Introduction to The Farmlink Project
By Bridgette Schafer 

 

For the month of November, Macrothink is proud to be donating to The Farmlink Project, a nonprofit organization started in March by college students Aidan Reilly and James Kanoff in response to the amplified hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus has swept through the United States, the nation has experienced higher unemployment rates than those resulting from the 2008 Great Recession, reaching over 14% in April of this year (Pew Research Center). For specific demographics this percentage is much higher, such as the Latinx population, which has experienced an alarming 18.9% unemployment rate (Feeding America).


As a result of the economic downturn, food insecurity throughout the nation has increased dramatically; people who have lost their jobs no longer have a stable income with which they are able to buy basic necessities, such as groceries. The rates of food insecurity are projected to increase to 15.5% of the overall U.S. population by the end of this year, with the number even higher for children at 23.1%, or almost 1 out of every 4 children (Feeding America). Farmlink is working to aid those struggling with the adverse circumstances relating to food insecurity brought about by the pandemic, with the mission statement, “Fighting food insecurity is our mission -- repurposing surplus produce is our solution”. 


From L to R: Emmett Reilly, Aidan Reilly, Jack Cortese, James Kanoff, Stella Delp, and Chad Kanoff
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Farmlink has been able to actualize its mission by utilizing the changing supply and demand relationships that exist in the food sector. The restaurant business has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. With long-term closures and the limited acceptance of patrons, restaurants have not been able to operate at full capacity. This has caused establishments to reduce their regular demand of produce from farms, as they are not selling meals at typical rates. The same goes for schools, offices, and other establishments with large cafeterias that have been closed by the pandemic. Therefore, farmers who sell to businesses such as restaurants or schools find themselves in desperate situations, having surpluses that at times have grown to tons of pounds with no means with which to export their products. 


Doug Hess’s farm in Idaho — the first potato farmer Farmlink partnered with.
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This is where Farmlink steps in. Starting with their first transport of 10,800 eggs on April 14 from an egg ranch in Southern California to a nearby food pantry, the organization has since been able to redistribute 14,014,899 pounds of food that would otherwise rot in warehouses. This amount is equivalent to 11,654,082 meals for those in need, and the prevention of its waste has stopped 15,969,340 pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. Since its founding in March of this year, Farmlink has been able to raise an incredible 2.3 million dollars to accomplish these tremendous efforts and plan for future shipments. 

James Kanoff (CEO) helping unload a shipment of onions.
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Every dollar donated to Farmlink covers the cost of rescuing 10 pounds of food from being dumped in a landfill, and instead provides 8 meals for those in need. The team has grown to over 100 college students with deliveries being made from coast to coast. In addition to targeting traditional food banks, the organization has also established relationships with the Navajo Nation and other Native American communities, which have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Macrothink is thrilled to be promoting and donating to The Farmlink Project during the month of November and is excited to see their future accomplishments. Learn more on their website, https://www.farmlinkproject.org/



Sources:


https://www.farmlinkproject.org/ 


https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/11/unemployment-rose-higher-in-three-months-of-covid-19-than-it-did-in-two-years-of-the-great-recession/#:~:text=Unemployment%20rose%20higher%20in%20three,years%20of%20the%20Great%20Recession&text=The%20COVID%2D19%20outbreak%20and,20.5%20million%20in%20May%202020


https://www.feedingamerica.org/sites/default/files/2020-10/Brief_Local%20Impact_10.2020_0.pdf 


Photos from Owen Dubeck.