Helping Others

Food bank’s donation total may be one for the records

FILE -- Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services volunteer, Judy Clark, left, smiles at Warehouse Assistant, Aaron Smith as he places places food onto a scale to be weighed during a Guinness Book of World Record attempt in progress at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Service's distribution center on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2016.
FILE -- Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services volunteer, Judy Clark, left, smiles at Warehouse Assistant, Aaron Smith as he places places food onto a scale to be weighed during a Guinness Book of World Record attempt in progress at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Service's distribution center on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2016. Sacramento Bee File

Trailer trucks of watermelons, plums, kale, cucumbers and other produce on Wednesday rolled into a Sacramento Food Bank distribution center, where the effort to set a Guinness World Records mark was in full gear all day.

Call it a stunt with a cause. Last year, the food bank gathered nearly 171,000 pounds of produce in 24 hours, setting a Guinness record. Donors beat that record this year, more than doubling the figure. The drive concluded with 493,977 pounds of produce, said spokeswoman Kari Miskit.

“It is pretty staggering. The Guinness people were pleased,” she said.

The drive was hosted by Visit Sacramento’s farm-to-fork program and the food bank. The drive was a natural for the Sacramento region with its close proximity to farms.

Blake Young, the food bank’s chief, said that donated fresh produce helps needy families maintain health.

“It is incredibly important for families to understand they are capable of changing their health and well-being by modifying the food they eat,” Young said. “And fresh produce is the place to start.”

The fruits and vegetables were not scarred seconds.

The produce came from food distributors, supermarket chains and local farms. The plums in big bins were a deep purple, the watermelons were heavy and the kale was fresh from the field.

On Thursday, all that was collected will be distributed to neighboring, smaller food banks and food closets for people in a six-county area.

“The fresh produce will help tremendously to provide items families need most and are least often donated,” Young said.

Each load of produce was taken by forklift to a floor scale, where the bounty was weighed. Then, it was either kept in the warehouse or moved into cold storage.

“We are here to validate the record,” said Jimmy Coggins, official Guinness adjudicator, who said any record gets placed in the organization’s database, while 10 percent of the records are published in the Guinness book.

The director of the farm-to-fork program, Nicole Rogers, said the ultimate goal is to get all of the extra fresh produce into the hands of people who need it most.

“Blake Young has been a maverick in working with farmers to glean the produce and get it into the communities that need it,” she said.

Blake Young of Sacramento Food Bank explains the effort to set a Guinness world record for most fresh produce gathered in 24 hours. The Food Bank and Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork program were out to break the record of about 170,000 pounds.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews The Bee’s Cathy Locke contributed to this report.

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