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Cost of Feeding a Person


Wonder where do we get the sixty cents per person per day figure?

The Urban Farmers project is organized from bottom up around the idea of doing more with less. We run it like a business and keep a keen eye on the bottom line. Monitoring the costs of production is a key measure of our work.

Before explaining the costs, it is important to realize people and especially students, are interested in having the results of their work quantified. How did my work help today, is a reasonable question that deserves a thoughtful answer. The actual costs (60 cents per day, or 70 cents or 85 cents) is not as important asprovoking thoughts and soliciting questions. Let’s get started,

According to United States Department of Agriculture, in order to feed a person for a day, a farmer must grow 5 pounds of food.

At this point two common questions arise:

Q: 5 pounds! Who can eat that much?
A: No one that we know. This weight includes seeds, stalk, skin, and leaves that a farmer grows but we often do not eat.

Q: Does beef grow on trees?
A: Technically yes, but we get it! 5 pounds of food is a theoretical basket of fruits, vegetable and grains. It has all the calories, minerals and fibers that are necessary to sustain the life of an average person for an average day. (there is no such thing as an average day, we just threw that in!)

The Cost of a Pound
Since all the food for our project is donated and all the labor is volunteered, Our operations costs include some basic stuff like insurance, equipment, fuel for vehicles and repairs. In FY ’15 we spent about $17,700 to glean 147,000 pounds of fruit or about 12 cents per pound. This is the cost of everything. We did not leave out the cost of the building or utilities for the building. You guessed it, we don’t have one. We are a virtual organization.

Now let’s do the math. One person, five pounds of food at 12 cents per pound. Did you get sixty cents too?

Ready for the most common question?

Q: Who can live on fruit only, especially lemons?
A: Which takes us back to the theoretical basket of food above and calories, nutrients and fibers.

Here is the best part of this story. The fruits and vegetables that consumers can buy at the grocery store were picked days if not weeks ago. The fruit that we harvest is off the tree today and on someone’s table the next day. This is one case where the poor get better food than the rich!

Ready for the big question?

Q: But this project does not solve world hunger?
Note: It is tempting to say “no kidding”, but the question is sincere. It often comes from people that are new at attempting to repair the world. They are trained to look for the magic wand, an all or nothing answer, and see anything short of a total solution as a waste of time.

A: True! We can’t even claim to address the issue of hunger for our county. Social change requires local action. The local action that people trust is often lead by those who understand and believe in a vision and act independently. This is what we do and we do it to eliminate as much suffering as we can.