Oct 16, 2020
Georgia Organics’ promotion, Food Fight GA, honored by PMA
Georgia Organics’ Food Fight GA, created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support both restaurant workers and the Georgia farm-to-foodservice supply chain, has been announced as one of the first three winners of the PMA Impact Award.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a chain reaction of unforeseen challenges at each point in the food chain from growers to consumers and those who serve them in our restaurants and retail outlets. Food Fight GA was spearheaded by Georgia Organics, as a response to one of the most serious challenges created by the COVID-19 shutdowns: What happens to foodservice employees and foodservice suppliers when the restaurants are forced to close? Georgia Organics, whose mission is to connect organic food from Georgia Farms to Georgia families, focused their efforts on finding a solution for just that problem.
“The creators of Food Fight GA saw a significant disruption in the supply chain and created a solution that helped save businesses like small local farmers, and fed those in the community whose jobs were lost or limited due to shutdowns,” said Lauren M. Scott, PMA chief strategy and membership officer. “It’s truly innovative to see opportunity where others cannot, but what I find most impressive and worthy of recognition is the dedication to growing a healthier world by ensuring that produce can find its way to those most in need.”
Food Fight GA seeks to serve Atlanta’s restaurant family by providing fresh produce to former staff while also maintaining the local food system. Thanks to funding from the Jamestown Charitable Foundation and Ponce City Market, Food Fight GA is able to order directly from the small farms that are often existing sellers to the restaurants to be bagged, sorted and shared with those now unemployed in the restaurant community. The program has distributed 3,900 produce boxes to restaurant workers, with more than $115,000 benefiting local farmers, more than half of which are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) farmers.
“Food Fight GA has continued to make sure that farmers who may have lost sales due to a decrease in purchasing from restaurants are still able to make a living,” said Amber Suitt, director of programs at Food Fight GA. “At the same time, we have been a great support to the restaurants in particular for their employees.”
As an industry, foodservice has experienced one of the highest rates of unemployment across the U.S. during the pandemic. Many chefs and restaurant owners were forced to let go of team members or reduce staff hours, including Deborah VanTrece, executive chef and owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours.
“We’re all struggling here,” said VanTrece. “Quite often people are wondering where their next meal is coming from, or they’re making a choice to pay rent or to eat. That is not a choice that any of us should have to make. The Food Fight GA program provides food and closes that gap and takes worry off of our employees.”
Food Fight GA is hoping to continue their program through at least early October. Those interested in learning more about the program or how to donate can find more information on the organization’s website.
About the PMA Impact Award
The purpose of the PMA Impact Award is “to honor excellence and inspirational actions of people and organizations helping to grow a healthier world.” Joe Don Zetzsche, director of BLOOMS Flowers by H-E-B, introduced the award during his comments as the incoming chair of the Board of Directors at PMA’s Fresh Summit in October 2019.
PMA has announced the first 3 laureates, chosen to be recognized for their transformative work.
“Every day, the fresh produce and floral industries strives to make a difference in people’s lives by given The Joy of Fresh to every person around the world. And every day, individuals and companies find ways to meet businesses’ demands and challenges, change lives, advance our industry, and make a distinct contribution. The PMA Impact Award is to honor excellence and inspirational actions of people and organizations contributing to the produce and floral industry growing a healthier world. We are grateful to all the nominees for their pursuit of what is possible and deeply honored to share the inspirational stories of the award laureates.” – Lauren M. Scott, PMA, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer
Above, Nuri Icgoren, with his wife Sofia, operate Urban Sprout Farms, a biodynamic, certified organic urban farm Lakewood Heights, Georgia. Their five-acre plot, just a few miles southeast of Downtown Atlanta, is home to hoop houses, fresh herb and flower beds, with a big vision for the future. Photo: Preston Keres/USDA