In 2018, the United Fresh Start Foundation built Produce Pros, a volunteer team of industry specialists that help organizations overcome hurdles to providing children with fresh fruits and vegetables. The Produce Pros team answers questions, provides insights, troubleshoots, and serves as a resource for such organizations. The program is one way the fresh produce industry is sharing its unique knowledge to help ensure kids everywhere are growing up fresh.
Produce Pros first supported DC Central Kitchen’s Healthy Corners program, which sought assistance in understanding small-scale produce delivery. With insights and ideas from Produce Pros, the organization is working to help its corner stores purchase directly from distribution companies.
Produce Pros FAQs
What is the Produce Pros Program?
The Produce Pros Program helps provide children with fresh fruits and vegetables by connecting community organizations and schools to fresh produce industry professionals. The “Produce Pros,” volunteers who work in the fresh produce industry, provide perspectives, answer questions, explain processes, troubleshoot, and generally serve as a resource to schools and communities that seek assistance in overcoming barriers to serving children fresh produce.
Produce Pros is a program of the United Fresh Start Foundation, the nonprofit organization of the United Fresh Produce Association.
What Can My Organization Expect from the Produce Pros?
The Produce Pros answer questions, provide insight, troubleshoot and serve as a resource for their “clients.” The United Fresh Start Foundation works with each party to set guidelines for engagement. Produce Pros typically provide support is typically offered via phone and email, though in some cases may provide onsite support. Collaboration with Produce Pros varies in length depending on need.
What Are Examples of What I Can Learn from the Produce Pros?
Produce Pros can provide guidance on small-volume produce delivery for small-format stores, writing specs for school foodservice, identifying and selecting value-added and convenience products, tips for merchandising fresh produce, selecting and building relationships with fresh produce vendors, fresh produce storage and handling, and more.
How Does It Work?
Interested organizations submit a short application to the United Fresh Start Foundation, describing the support they seek from the Produce Pros. Once an organization is selected, the Foundation helps the organization determine what type of expertise it needs to overcome its expressed hurdles, and then selects Produce Pros with relevant expertise to help. The United Fresh Start Foundation facilitates the first telephone conversation between Pros and the organization and assists with future engagement as-needed.
Who is Eligible for Produce Pros Support?
An entity is eligible to receive Produce Pros support if guidance from the fresh produce industry would help it achieve a specific goal or overcome a specific hurdle related to strengthening or growing the success of a program, project, or activity that increases children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Any entity is eligible for support, including schools; United Fresh Start Foundation Community Grant recipients, applicants, or other non-profit organizations; convenience or corner stores; community or faith-based organizations; academics or other researchers; and others.
How Can I Get Support from the Produce Pros?
If you are interested in applying for Produce Pros help, you can fill out a short application here.
How do I become one of the “Pros” in Produce Pros?
Contact Kate Olender at 202-303-3420.