TC Food Bank opens cutting-edge processing plant
Fort Pierce, FL: Treasure Coast Food Bank (TCFB) recently opened the much anticipated Produce Processing Plant at its Industrial 25th Street location in Fort Pierce with the press and public offered a tour earlier this week. More than 15 community members, donors, friends and members of the local media were on hand as Judith Cruz, TCFB President and CEO, guided a tour of the state of the art processing facility.
The 10,000 square foot facility was the non-profit’s former headquarters prior to moving to its new 40,000 sq. ft. location on Angle Road in Fort Pierce. Now, the space on Industrial 25th Street is used to receive produce, wash, clean and package it as well as process it into safe, stable food products that may be frozen and stored, thereby extending their shelf life. The fresh produce is a necessary source of nutrition improving the diet of working families often living paycheck to paycheck, school-aged children who anxiously await breakfast and lunch now that school is out, and our elderly population who simply need a hand up to make their monthly budgets.
The processing facility opened in May 2018 after delays following the 2017 hurricane season. The facility is outfitted with a state of the art washing facility, receiving and packaging rooms, large capacity walk in freezer and a sleek, clean industrial kitchen featuring cooking kettles capable of creating hundreds of gallons of ready-to-eat meals as well as preserving fresh produce the TCFB receives throughout the South Florida growing season. Slated to process more than 25 million pounds of fresh produce each year, the TCFB will not only distribute these necessary goods to its local community, it will work with school districts throughout the state to provide students with food that meets the districts’ USDA nutrition standards
In addition to providing nutritious food to children, seniors, and others in need, the Producing Processing Plant creates a new source of revenue for South Florida farmers whose odd-sized produce otherwise goes to waste. Cruz’s staff is cross-trained on various tasks to maintain optimum efficiency within the TCFB operation. During the tour, workers were assembling meals for some 2,000 local children involved in the popular Summer Feeding program. TCFB staff delivers to 23 member sites for distribution to their program attendees.
The equipment at the processing facility is state of the art and was designed especially for the TCFB. For example, if the TCFB receives excess amounts of a particular item, for instance, tomatoes, the intelligently designed CapKold recipe system is capable of generating recipes that may be used to create tasty dishes that can be quickly cooled and frozen for future distribution. The processing plant is the only one of its kind in the state and holds a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point certification from the feds. Cruz described how the TCFP plant was working closely with St Lucie County’s Incubator kitchen to offer new startup businesses in need of commercial kitchens for production the ServSafe training they need for licensure.
This multi-use processing plant is a bright, silver lining for the future of food processing and distribution in our community. Helping to curb waste while feeding our at risk populations is not only essential, it’s also smart and practical. Hat’s off to them, their staff and volunteers for their innovative approach to solving hunger problems at home.
For questions related to the Treasure Coast Food Bank’s processing facility and more, please contact Rebecca Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-446-1757.
For Media Inquiries: Angie Francalancia
The Connection Public Relations