Approved by the Board of Directors June 25, 2015
Foodbanking generally mirrors the food industry that is the primary source of donated food for the nation’s food banks. In the early years of foodbanking, much of the food in supermarkets was processed and shelf stable. To meet the public’s demands over the years, more and more space in grocery stores began to be allocated to fresh and frozen items. Operating in parallel with the food industry, food banks adapted and learned how to handle and distribute larger and larger quantities of perishable food.
As food banks across the country became more and more skilled at distributing perishable items, a related interest in nutrition developed. This took a variety of forms including such things as hiring nutritionists on staff, opening in-house kitchens, and creating free farmer’s markets for hungry people. In addition, food banks have adopted a wide range of food acceptance and distribution policies related to the nutritional content of food.
Roadrunner Food Bank (RRFB) staff and board members field questions continually from constituencies (partner agencies, donors, volunteers, media and others) who seek to understand why the food bank accepted/refused or distributed/discarded certain food items. In addition, these stakeholders often want to know how the food bank defines its role in contributing to the health of New Mexico’s hungry people.
In 2014, the RRFB board formed an Advocacy Committee. One of the Committee’s initial tasks was to lead a robust discussion of potential food policy elements and to recommend to the Board a policy for adoption by the spring of 2015. The remainder of this document outlines the specific food policy positions that the board has elected to adopt at this time.
Healthy Foods: RRFB is committed to the dual goals of providing the healthiest possible food and to feeding people who would otherwise have no food at all. Whenever possible, RRFB will strive to meet both goals at the same time. That is, the food bank will first seek to feed the hungry with healthy foods. The food bank will also provide whatever food is available to avoid the necessity of either adults or children skipping meals altogether.
Food Safety: RRFB’s policy is to control the safety and wholesomeness of the food products it handles throughout the warehousing and distribution chain.
RRFB will monitor temperatures and inspect food for safety throughout the chain of receiving, storage and distribution.
Food Acceptance: RRFB will accept any donation from its regular donors or from any individual. RRFB will not accept donations of soda from bottlers nor will it accept alcoholic beverages. RRFB’s policy is not to accept non-food items such as furniture.
Food Solicitation: RRFB does not solicit pastry, soda, candy, alcoholic beverages, over the counter drugs or non-food products. In order to ensure the supply of other food items, RRFB employs two full-time food sourcing staff.
Inventory and Distribution Methods: RRFB places all food in inventory and makes it available for agencies to order as they see fit. RRFB also strongly encourages, but does not require, client choice1 as an operating philosophy at food pantries operated by partner agencies. When RRFB determines the distribution method, RRFB will opt for client choice.
Tracking and Reporting: RRFB adopts Feeding America’s “Foods to Encourage” (F2E)2 categorization as its standard for tracking and reporting.
Nutrition Education: RRFB will use skills-based volunteers to provide nutrition education in as many locations as are practical. RRFB also commits to identifying and working with outside partners to provide nutritional education.
Evaluation of Success: RRFB evaluates its success in food acquisition and distribution in terms of pounds of food or meals distributed. In addition, RRFB uses Feeding America’s “Foods to Encourage” categories to evaluate and benchmark progress towards providing the healthiest mix of foods possible. RRFB will also take advantage of opportunities to perform surveys to assess client outcomes, particularly in the healthcare area.
Board Commitment: The Board of Directors commits to having members from both the food service and healthcare fields on the board at all times. Drawing on this expertise as needed, current board committees will address issues related to health and healthy foods as they may arise beyond the scope of these policies.
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1 Client choice is a type of food distribution system in which the client who will consume the food chooses which foods to accept from a broad variety of foods made available by the food pantry. In the alternative type of food distribution, clients receive a pre-packed food box which they must accept or reject in its entirety.
2 F2E is Feeding America’s approach to estimate the nutritional contributions of food categories in food banks’ inventories. The product categories within F2E are ones that are more consistently inclusive of food items that meet the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). For example, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and whole grains. Many also understand this to be a reflection of the USDA MyPlate image.