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Coronavirus

Food banks benefit from loss of commercial markets

California food banks receive about 400 tons of cabbage from Fresno County farm after processor tells grower there was no market for the crop

The loss of markets for agricultural products because of COVID-19 has either forced farmers to not plant at all, destroy crops nearing the time for harvest, or in the case of a few, has presented opportunities to donate fresh produce to various food banks.

Don Cameron of Terra Nova Ranch in western Fresno County was able to donate about 400 tons of fresh cabbage to food banks in California. Aside from local Central Valley food banks, like the one in Fresno, food banks from San Francisco to Indio will see some of this cabbage, Cameron said.

"The quality of the crop is beautiful," he said.

Originally the crop was destined for a processor in Stockton who would turn the cabbage into sauerkraut. That market dried up, as did many others due to the impacts of COVID on the placement of food into restaurants and the national school lunch program.

To date the cabbage is Cameron's only crop that was diverted from the commercial marketplace. Unlike neighbors who were forced to plow under lettuce crops because that crop could not be consumed elsewhere, Terra Nova Ranch found a willing participant in the various food banks to take a crop they typically might not see for those they serve.

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