Kindness comes in many forms. But when COVID-19 hit the US, highlighting the realities around food waste versus food scarcity, the need for one specific form of kindness became shockingly clear. Millions of people were facing financial insecurity as a result of business shutdowns, leaving countless families worried about how they would pay for basic necessities, like food and groceries. Meanwhile, the news was flooded with images that showed vast amounts of food rotting in farms across the country. How could so much food be wasted while so many people were going hungry? Baffled by this question and motivated by the need to help, a group of kind Stanford University students set out on a mission to find a solution.
Upon getting started, these students quickly realized that the problem of food waste had existed long before COVID-19, with billions of pounds wasted yearly in the US alone. If these students could somehow salvage this food before it went bad and distribute it to the millions of hungry Americans across the nation, imagine the kindness impact they could have! And so The Farmlink Project was born, aiming to “alleviate food insecurity and reduce food waste by connecting farms with a surplus of fresh, nutritious produce to communities in need.”
Elaborating on the project, Stanford student James Kanoff told abc 7, “We saw these images of millions of gallons of milk going to waste and hundreds of thousands of eggs being smashed, entire produce fields that were being plowed under. We just wanted to say, let’s connect one farm to our local food bank and if we can do that, that’s a model that we can bring the other places.”
This model now drives The Farmlink Project, which has quickly grown from a local initiative into a movement that “comprises more than 100 students from colleges and universities across the country.”
Together, the Farmlink team has worked to raise money and volunteers to help gather and distribute food from farms and bring it to their local communities. And they’ve made quite the impact already!
According to Farmlink, they have moved 21 million pounds of fresh produce to communities and food banks in need since May 2020 alone. That’s equivalent to 18 million meals! In addition to their efforts toward feeding vulnerable populations, the organization has been able to provide $2.3 million in economic relief to farmers and truckers, all while preventing 22,765,300 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into our atmosphere!
When asked about a moment in their journey in which they were able to make the most impact, The Farmlink Project shared their Thanksgiving story, in which the team took on the challenge of delivering one million turkey dinners to families in need. According to Farmlink, organization members across the country all pitched in to make this dream a reality, offering them a firsthand look at the work the project is doing and the people they are serving.
Commenting on The Farmlink Project, Core Team Leader, Ben Collier, shared on the organization’s Instagram, “Our motto is ‘Harvesting Hope’. For months, I’ve thought that hope was for the people we serve. I realize now that this hope extends beyond those we serve. It extends to the other generations who see what we’re doing and donate, or send a note of love and support, to the farmers who just care about feeding people. It also extends to this team, we each believe that this is something truly special.”
And we couldn’t agree more! The ability to recognize a problem that is affecting millions and implement a solution to that problem, motivated simply by the desire to help, is the sort of kindness that the world needs more of. A big thank you to the Farmlink team for the motivation to do good in the world, and for the reminder that when we work together, anything is possible! We’re looking forward to following your journey through 2021!