Hunger-Free Minnesota Aims to Rescue 1 Million Pounds of Surplus Sweet Corn

Cargill funding and new systems allow corn to reach 20 distribution points across U.S.

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Hunger-Free Minnesota Aims to Rescue 1 Million Pounds of Surplus Sweet Corn
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MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hunger-Free Minnesota (www.hungerfreemn.org) announced today it plans to capture up to 1 million pounds of newly harvested surplus sweet corn to be delivered fresh to hungry Minnesotans and low-income families in up to 20 other locations across the U.S. The largest single rescue of agricultural surplus to date is the result of Hunger-Free Minnesota funding provided by Cargill, food processors Seneca Foods and Pinnacle Foods Inc., corporate partner supply chain expertise from General Mills and a team of Feeding America food banks across the country.

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Hunger-Free Minnesota enlisted its coalition partners from the agriculture and food industry to plan and implement a just-in-time harvest through delivery system that would ensure that excess sweet corn would not go to waste when so many Americans need help to put food on the table. Last year, Hunger-Free Minnesota and its agricultural surplus initiative partners, completed a pilot program that is the model for this year's expanded rescue effort.

The corn will be harvested, cooled, packed and shipped in truckloads, each carrying nearly 40,000 pounds of corn to food banks that have pre-ordered the corn through the Feeding America network. The corn deliveries began the week of September 15 and will continue into October.

While food banks are working to increase their capacity to handle and distribute fresh produce, the sophisticated logistics of managing a huge volume of surplus food is beyond the resources of a single organization. The September corn rescue included months of logistical planning following a 2012 pilot, pre-orders for corn from food banks, hydro-cooling processes, donated harvesting, delivery to repacking, volunteer labor and management of final shipments.

Said Ellie Lucas, chief campaign officer of Hunger-Free Minnesota, "This successful corn rescue program illustrates our belief that hunger in our country is a solvable problem. Agricultural surplus has tremendous potential to provide nutritious food to those in need and this partnership demonstrates what can be done when will, resources and expertise come together. We are very grateful to our partners who are taking a leadership role. We hope this large-scale corn rescue spurs other agricultural surplus initiatives with additional crops."

From Nightfall Harvest to Right-Sized Deliveries Across the US

Seneca, a large corn buyer and processor, notified Hunger-Free Minnesota in July about the potential availability of surplus sweet corn from western Minnesota. Working with the Feeding America Produce Program, a message was sent to all Feeding America members, giving food banks around the country the opportunity to "bid" on loads of corn. In addition to Seneca, Pinnacle Foods, Inc. is participating in the surplus corn initiative through its Birds Eye brand.

The corn is harvested and then delivered by Seneca or Pinnacle Foods to a Cargill grain storage facility in Savage, Minn. Cargill employee volunteers repack the corn and load it on to refrigerated trucks where it will be hydro-cooled using a custom chilling system to remove field heat. The system sprays the corn with 40-degree water, allowing the corn to cool to a temperature below 50 degrees, which in turn increases the shelf life of the corn to about 14 days.

Corn will be delivered to distribution points across the country including locations in:

  • Arkansas
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Oklahoma
  • Georgia
  • Missouri
  • Texas
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Oregon
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Wisconsin

About the Agricultural Surplus Initiative

To increase the capture of surplus crops from Minnesota farms and processing companies, Hunger-Free Minnesota has undertaken an Agricultural Surplus Initiative, with the goal of obtaining an additional 10.4 million meals by 2014 and distributing them to Minnesotans in need. Made possible by a $1 million grant from Cargill, the initiative brings together a cross-sector workgroup to find long-term solutions toward capturing and distributing agricultural surplus from Minnesota growers and processors.

Initiative Partners

Cargill
Seneca Foods
Pinnacle Foods, Inc.
General Mills
Second Harvest Heartland
The Produce Capture Institute
Feeding America
SUPERVALU

About Hunger-Free Minnesota

Hunger-Free Minnesota is a time-limited campaign to close the 100 million missing-meal gap in Minnesota. Among its partners and supporters are community leaders and citizens, nonprofit agencies and organizations, food banks, food shelves, and corporations. Research partners include The Boston Consulting Group and EnSearch, Inc. Hunger-Free Minnesota's strategic action plan focuses on emergency food system capacity, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child hunger and nutrition. The campaign encourages individuals and organizations to "Fight Hunger Where You Live." More information is available at www.hungerfreemn.org.

About Feeding America

Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that serve more than 37 million people annually. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/.

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