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Friends of the Farm: Governor Ducey Announces Arizona’s Farm-to-Food-Bank Program

Phoenix, AZ (November 26, 2019) — Today, Governor Doug Ducey announced a new $250,000 investment to address food insecurity in Arizona. The new initiative, called Friends of the Farm, will strengthen the state’s agricultural economy while improving access to healthy foods for Arizonans struggling with hunger.

The innovative “farm to food bank” program is a partnership between the Arizona Food Bank Network, formerly known as the Association of Arizona Food Banks, and Arizona’s agriculture industry. It will bring more fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein to food banks as well as create a reli
able market for Arizona farmers.

The Arizona Food Bank Network includes five members—Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, HonorHealth Desert Mission Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank, and Yuma Community Food Bank—that distribute food to about 1,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, community centers, and other partner agencies throughout the state.

“Farmers and food bankers have the same goal—to feed people,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Arizona Food Bank Network. “With Friends of the Farm, our food banks will work directly with Arizona’s farmers to get a greater quantity and variety of healthy foods on the tables of working families, children, older adults, and other clients who come through our doors. This Thanksgiving, we are grateful to Governor Ducey for making this a priority.”

Although Arizona’s poverty rate has continuously improved over the past four years, nearly 1 million people across the state still struggle with food insecurity, which means they lack reliable access to affordable healthy food in sufficient quantities. Arizona’s food banks provide emergency food relief to nearly 450,000 people each month, and they are committed to distributing highly nutritious foods. Last year, nearly 50 percent of the food distributed to clients was fresh produce.

“Arizona is committed to helping all families put healthy, fresh food on the table,” said Governor Ducey. “This new Friends of the Farm pilot program is a win-win that will support Arizona’s farmers and fill food banks with a variety of healthy choices.”

At a time when agriculture producers, particularly small growers, are facing numerous market challenges, Friends of the Farm can help. The program also expands on Arizona’s previous investments in food banks across the state, specifically to increase their capacity to safely store, refrigerate, and distribute healthy foods to families in need.