Food For Free and Freight Farms Partner to Bring Fresh Local Produce to the Greater Boston Community

With Memorial Day behind us, we’re officially in the Massachusetts outdoor growing season, when farm stands, farmers markets and CSA shares are opening up across the state with bounties of fresh produce. Despite the increase in supply of locally grown fresh fruits and veggies, grocery prices, especially for fresh produce, are a lot more expensive than they used to be. In fact, in 2023 food prices in the U.S. increased by 5.8 percent. Inflation, however, isn’t only challenging consumers’ budgets, it is also impacting local farmers’ ability to meet supply and demand. As a result, grocery stores and farmers markets are supplementing off-season crops with more imported goods, which are often more expensive and less fresh, thus making it even harder for the 1 in 3 Massachusetts households facing food insecurity to access nutrition.

Food For Free and Freight Farms are working together to address this issue, and not just during the growing season, but all year round. Freight Farms experiments with different crops, water cycles and lighting ratios without using pesticides or herbicides to increase their modular container’s quality and yield output in the company’s South Boston-based research farm. Freight Farms donates 100% of the food they grow in their HQ Research Farms, and Food For Free is able to distribute that food to people who need it every week. The collaboration ensures that the hyperlocal, high-quality harvests from Freight Farms’ research activities do not go to waste and instead are distributed to the community organizations serving individuals and families facing food insecurity. 

Food For Free Logistics Specialist 2 Erica Kenny loads a van with bags filled with a fresh harvest of leafy greens grown and donated by Freight Farms.

“Not only does the quantity of food donated make this partnership so beneficial, but these donations also include a diverse range of crops, such as lettuce, kale, beets, mustard greens, and arugula,” says Alex Gladwell, Senior Manager of Programs and Partnerships at Food For Free. “These donations directly contribute to Food For Free’s mission of combating food insecurity by providing nutritious, locally grown food year-round to individuals and communities struggling to afford their own groceries.”

The expertise of the leading food rescue and distribution organization in Eastern Massachusetts coupled with the Boston-based agriculture technology company’s commitment to sustainable agriculture creates a powerful synergy. Since our partnership’s inception in November 2022, Freight Farms has donated over 14,000 lbs. of fresh leafy greens to Food For Free, enabling us to increase nutrition security in the community through our network of more than 150 food access partners.

“Our vertical farming systems in shipping containers enable farmers to grow the freshest and most nutrient-dense produce year-round,” says Sophia Carlat, Farm Manager and R&D Specialist at Freight Farms. “Consumers will start to see more hydroponic produce sold at local farmer’s markets this season at comparable prices. Our partnership with Food For Free amplifies the positive impact Freight Farms seeks to create in local communities.”

A researcher at Freight Farms inspects vertical rows of hydroponically grown leafy greens.

One of Food For Free’s partners that receives fresh produce from Freight Farms is Cambridge Community Center, an organization that aims to create a safe, community-building space for families of color living in Cambridge. In response to the pandemic, the Center launched their Food & Supply Pantry, which continues to serve over 500 households each week. Thanks to Food For Free’s partnership with Freight Farms, Cambridge Community Center and other food access partners are able to provide clients of the pantry with year-round access to locally-grown, high-quality and nutritious leafy greens. This collaboration ensures that community members receive well-rounded support, addressing both hunger and nutritional needs.

Nearly 40 percent of all food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. That’s approximately 325 pounds of waste per person. However, the same food that is decomposing and producing methane gas – a leading cause of climate change – could instead be supplying the emergency food system. By bolstering Cambridge Community Center’s capacity to serve more households, Freight Farms, in partnership with Food For Free, reduces food waste and contributes to long-term community resilience. Families facing food insecurity can access nutritious sustenance while also receiving essential supplies like toilet paper and cleaning products, and can participate in other community building programs the Center offers.

Food For Free offers a solution to both hunger and food waste by rescuing food that would otherwise be discarded and creating new distribution channels to reach underserved populations in Eastern Massachusetts communities.  To support our work, make a donation by visiting https://foodforfree.org/donate/.

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