Sunday, October 26, 2014 • 01:47
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Donating avocados to a local food bank



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Avocados ripening on trees at an avocado grove in Valley Center. Instead of falling to the ground and being wasted, these avocados could be harvested then donated to the local food bank or charity.
April 23, 2014
Julie Wright and her family live on three acres in Valley Center. They have 150 avocado trees that produce 800 pounds of avocados each year.

"The commercial value if we sell them is approximately $500. We don't grow the avocados for commercial purposes," said Wright.

She has noticed a similar situation exists with surrounding property owners who have trees that don't yield enough avocados to sell commercially.

"If I'm having this issue and all the neighbors are having the same issue, then it must be widespread," said Wright.

Walking through the neighborhood, she noticed most of the neighbors don't grow avocado or fruit trees for commercial resale. Instead, the fruit drops from the trees then spoils. A neighbor living on 20 acres has persimmon trees that produce fruit that is allowed to fall to the ground only to decay.

"This helps nobody and is a waste of food and the water investment it takes to water these trees," Wright said.

She views the solution as simply donating the fruit to a food bank.

The Wrights' water bill is about $1,000 in the summer. They hire an avocado contract employee who works half a day once each week to maintain the trees. They write off the water bill associated with watering the trees, the contract employee, and other costs associated with maintaining the trees. Twice each year, $100 is paid to have 2,000 avocados harvested that are donated to North County Food Bank. The tax donation write-off is $1,000.

"Avocado retail prices are expected to increase by 28 to 34 percent per avocado due to Southern California's drought. Therefore, the tax write-off increase for donations for the value of avocados will also increase." This statement appeared in an April 17, 2014 San Francisco News blog.

"A food pantry is not the same as a food bank," said Wright.

A food pantry can't accept anything over 100 pounds, whereas the food bank accepts larger volumes of non-canned foods. A food pantry has limited capacity to store food, whereas a food bank can accept small to large donations of any food type.

Michael Lawson is the Director of North County Food Bank, the only food bank in northern San Diego.

"The average adult consumes 1.25 pounds of food per meal," said Lawson.

One hundred pounds of food is equivalent to 80 meals or 1,000 pounds of food equals 800 meals.

Valley Center and surrounding area residents who do not sell commercially can donate, helping many families in the community.

"North County Food Bank is in desperate need of food donations," Lawson said.

According to North County Food Bank's website, this past year, the food bank worked with 112 community partner agencies to distribute over 1.94 million pounds of food. Food donated from farmers, grocers, and wholesalers and through food drives conducted by churches, schools, and businesses provided over 1.5 million meals to over 243,333 individuals last year.

Hunger has affected thousands of families impacted by job losses as a result of the economic downturn which began in 2008. Over the past five years, demand has remained at an all-time high for North County's food bank.

If anyone is interested in donating avocados or fruit to North County Food Bank, contact Michael Lawson at (760) 761-1140 or visit mlawson@sdnccs.org or http://www.sdnccs.org. North County Food Bank is located at 680 Rancheros Drive, San Marcos.

For those who plan to donate but can't afford to pay laborers to harvest the fruit, there are organizations that will pick avocados and fruit from trees. Contact Crop Swap at (760) 415-4296 or visit http://cropswapcarlsbad.org or contact Senior Gleaners at (916) 925-3240 or visit http://seniorgleaners.org.

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