Produce Initiative

Produce Initiative Pahls MarketThere is more than enough food, and Second Harvest Heartland is working hard to provide access to provide fresh produce in supporting a balanced diet and overall health.

The Produce Initiative provides a full picture of sourcing fresh produce, providing client access, leadership and advocacy. By partnering with leaders and local community members, Second Harvest Heartland finds ways to rescue more food that would have otherwise gone to waste and use it to feed more people.

Sourcing more fresh produce

Food Bank

Second Harvest Heartland is a food bank and more. Last year, of the 81 million meals distributed, more than 57.5 percent of that food was fresh – including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and bakery items. As we work to increase the variety and amount of fresh, healthy foods distributed our work changes to address the complexity and challenges associated with handling a larger amount of perishable products. We’re excited to be pioneering new ways to safely and efficiently source and distribute more fresh food for our hungry neighbors and help change the hunger-relief system.

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Through OUR FARM, Second Harvest Heartland is participating in the food production supply chain in a whole new way. OUR FARM, Second Harvest Heartland’s indoor hydroponic farm will provide a source of sustainable, high quality, reliable, fresh and nutritional produce year-round.

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Share Fresh

Second Harvest Heartland and the five other Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota are committed to expanding partnerships to access the abundance of fresh produce from local farmers, commercial growers and processors. The Share Fresh program re-directs produce that would otherwise go un- harvested or placed for sale by local growers into the emergency hunger relief system.

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Midwest Region Produce Cooperative

The Midwest Region Produce Cooperative (MRPC) coordinates sourcing and distributing fresh produce, year-round, for food banks in the Midwest that cannot afford as much-needed produce outside of the local growing season.

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Retail Food Rescue

Every day, our Retail Food Rescue program collects thousands of pounds of produce, dairy, deli, meat, bakery and grocery items from nearly 500 retail partners. An important component of our overall produce strategy, Food Rescue sources/provides nearly half of the produce distributed by Second Harvest Heartland. More than 60% of the Food Rescue product is collected through facilitated agency partnerships with donors with their communities, keeping the produce donations fresh and local.

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Getting fresh food in the hands of our hungry neighbors

FreshProduceClientFresh Produce Distributions

Nearly 100 of the agency partners we support have produce distributions as part of their normal operations. But many of our agency partners don’t have the volunteer resources to run such large-scale distributions on their own. With Second Harvest Heartland Fresh Produce Distributions, we provide volunteers to those partners to help them build their capacity so they can do it on their own in the future.

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Case Counted Produce

Agency Partners can subscribe to a delivery of one to three boxes of each type of produce available with their regular order. We develop partnerships across the country to bring fresh produce into our service area all year round, not exclusively in Minnesota's growing season. More than 130 agency partners now receive produce that’s in-season and in a quantity that they can distribute to clients without worrying about storage or waste.

Continuing to support fresh produce efforts


We know that ending hunger is not something we can do alone. Hunger-relief requires commitment, resources and action on all fronts, including the public policy arena. That is why Second Harvest Heartland is committed to advocating for programs and policies that get food and nutrition to those who need it most and feed as many as possible within our region. As one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and innovative hunger relief organizations, we leverage our unique position to connect community voices, issues and stories with elected officials and public policy-makers in addition to mobilizing support for ending hunger.

The Produce Strategy Institute

The PSI is a resource that leverages Second Harvest Heartland’s growing expertise in locally sourcing surplus agricultural products. Second Harvest Heartland is leading efforts on a national scale within the Feeding America network to share best practices to localize agricultural surplus rescue methods and surplus distribution.

Funding for our Produce Initiative is provided by Change Happens Foundation, Feeding America – The Walt Disney Company, Otto Bremer Trust and World Wildlife Fund.

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