Imperfect Produce: Adopt The Food Justice Community Benefits Program

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December 18th, 2018

To Ben Simon, Ben Chesler, & Ron Clark of Imperfect Produce :

We are writing this letter to Imperfect Produce to urge you take responsibility for the impact your start-up is having on small farmers and community-based organizations that are building resilient, food sovereign food systems in the cities and states in which your corporation operates.  As a start-up food tech company operating in 10+ large US cities, your impact on smaller organizations is massive.  Since 2015, millions of dollars of venture capital has allowed you to use the language and messaging from our respective movements even as you out-advertise and out-compete smaller community based producers.

But your start-up operates on assumptions that are counter to the food justice and food sovereignty principles here in the US.  Imperfect Produce is consolidating ownership in the food system and it’s clear that Imperfect aims to be the Amazon of food waste and the gatekeepers to the access of this precious commodity to Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Community Based Organizations.  We want you take greater responsibilities for your impacts on community food systems and put into practice the 6 global principles of food sovereignty.

We the undersigned people and organizations ask you to immediately adopt a national community benefits program to begin to mitigate the impact your start-up has had on small scale producers, small distributors, and small farmers.  This community benefits agreement would include the following points and would be overseen by a committee resourced by Imperfect Produce, with one representative from the Food Justice Community in each of the cities you operate in.

  1. Use your profits and massive infrastructure to provide free delivery to community based organizations, food pantries, and food banks that receive the leftover donations from your business on a weekly basis;
  2. Create a community fund that re-grants 1% of your profits per city to support small rural farmers, urban farmers,  and community based food organizations to grow their own infrastructure to provide healthy food to their communities;
  3. Fulfill your promise on your website to provide full sourcing transparency regarding your value chain, including the brokers you use, the carbon footprint associated with shipping surplus and grade B produce thousands of miles, and the price you are paying per pound to the agribusiness from which you source;
  4. Create a hiring protocol* that places a minimum of 10% of historically marginalized people from the local community in leadership positions, not just warehouse jobs;
  5. Commit to creating packaging for your produce that reduces your carbon footprint, i.e., create a reusable/returnable box program that reflects the values of waste reduction you espouse. 
  6. Create a system that allows customers to pay in person or at a point of delivery with SNAP benefits;
  7. Commit to not sourcing produce from suppliers that violate the rights of farm workers or are under boycott by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), United Farm Workers, or other unions such as Driscoll products regardless if they are surplus.

We look forward to  to help guide Imperfect Produce to be better neighbors in the cities that host you, and to work towards embracing the principles of Food Sovereignty.  Imperfect Produce speaks often of supporting CSA’s and the food justice movement and we would like to give you the opportunity to actualize that support in a concrete and accountable fashion.

Signed,

Asia Hampton, Phat Beets Produce

max cadji, Phat Beets Produce

Kelly Curry, TESLA

Eric Holt-Gimenez, Food First

Haleh Zandi, Planting Justice

Bean Crane

Food Empowerment Project

Sustainable Economies Law Center

  *create a hiring protocol and invest the resources needed to recruit and support people historically marginalized from the community you are operating to be in executive positions.