Reclaiming food waste at the Mexican-U.S. border

Thousands of pounds of produce cross the Mexican-U.S. border everyday, destined for grocery stores all over the United States and Canada. Once they arrive, truckloads of fruits and vegetables are assessed based on factors like market demand and physical appearance. If they do not fit the bill, they are dumped near the boarder or sent to the landfill.

Yolanda Soto took notice of the waste and its potential to feed needy members of her border community of Nogales, Arizona. She began intercepting and redistributing food destined to be wasted at the border. Soon after, she started a food waste diversion program called “Borderlands Food Bank”. The program now serves over 16 000 people, providing fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as healthy recipes to food collectors.

Yolanda Soto, CEO of Borderlands Food Bank, near her home in Nogales, Arizona. The border between the U.S. and Mexico can be made out in the background. Photograph by Bryan Schutmaat

Yolanda Soto, Founder and CEO of Borderlands Foodbank (photo via nationalgeographic.com)

Now the CEO of Borderlands, Soto oversaw the redirection of 39 million pounds of food in 2015 alone. The company’s lengthy list of recipients includes over 150 non-profit hunger organizations across the United States as well as the Mexican State of Sonora.

Soto’s hard work has not  gone unnoticed, with stories of her success emerging in National Geographic.

Read more about Borderlands Foodbank and Yolanda’s story here.

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