3,200 pounds of fresh South Florida produce reaches FIU students

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused food insecurity for some people, and a recent effort organized by South Florida farmers has helped put healthy food on the tables for FIU students in need.

boxes of food

Redland Ahead, Taste of Redland and Unity Groves came together and delivered 160 boxes of fresh produce from local farmers to FIU students as part of a larger program that is providing thousands of boxes throughout Miami-Dade County each week. The campus distribution was organized by John Mills, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education and co-founder of Redland Ahead, a non-profit supporting the South Florida farming community.

The project is supported by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant that helps cover the cost of the produce, helping to get crops to consumers, reducing food waste, keeping farmers and packing house employees working and keeping South Florida residents fed. The project started as an Adopt-A-Box program supported by local donations and expanded with USDA’s national Farm-to-Family program.

storing fruit in back of mo-ped

On campus, 157 boxes were delivered through a social distancing drive-through in which students were able to pull up in their cars (or in one case, a moped) and a box of fresh produce was placed in the trunks or backseat. Another three boxes were delivered to students living in the dorms. This totaled more than 3,200 pounds of fresh produce. Kandys Temes, events manager for the college, worked with Mills to coordinate the distribution that included volunteers from FIU and the South Florida farming community.

Each week, the local farming organizations distribute 250,000 pounds of fresh produce at different sites throughout Miami-Dade County. Each 20-pound box is filled with 100 percent Redland-raised and Fresh from Florida produce to support Florida agriculture.

For updates about distribution sites, visit www.redlandahead.org. To help FIU students facing economic hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://fiustrong.fiu.edu/give-now/.