According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), roughly one in six households in Louisiana struggles with hunger. In New Orleans, that number is even higher. A Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) survey found more than one in five families in New Orleans (21.7 percent) were facing food insecurity in 2014.
The New Orleans Fruit Tree Project (NOFTP) is one of the programs working to lower that number—and reducing food waste in the process. NOFTP operates using a system of tree owner registration. Fruit tree owners who wish to donate their surplus harvest register with NOFTP and notify them when their fruit is ready for harvest. NOFTP then organizes volunteers to harvest fruit that would otherwise go to waste. The harvested fruit—primarily citrus, but also figs, pears, and peaches—is donated to local organizations working to end hunger. According to NOFTP’s website, the program is “a sustainable, community-based solution to food insecurity in the greater New Orleans area.”
NOFTP originated as a program of Hollygrove Market & Farm, an urban farm and local produce market located in the heart of New Orleans. Since its first citrus season in January 2011, NOFTP has harvested over 30,000 pounds of fruit from the greater New Orleans area.