The Work of Borderlands Starts with Produce Rescue

Fighting Food Waste on the Border: CNN's Great Big Story

Every pound rescued is made available to millions across Arizona, Northern Mexico and 24 other states. Borderlands was recently featured on CNN's Great Big Story, they took a in depth look at how we rescue and distribute over 32 million pounds of fresh produce annually. 

Rescue NOT Landfill

All of the produce distributed by Borderlands has been rescued before it could be sent to area landfills. In 1994 we first realized that any produce not purchased by retailers, from produce distributors, was just dumped in the landfill as it is too costly for distributors to transport back to the growers. Witnessing this waste first hand helped form the beginnings of what is now Borderlands.

For over 25 years Borderlands has been educating the produce industry, that it does not have the right to dump fresh produce. Being based out of Nogales, Arizona, just miles from the port of Entry responsible for over 60% of produce consumed in North America, affords Borderlands with the opportunity to rescue millions of pounds of unsold produce every year.

Processing and Re-Distribution

Each day we gets calls from area distributors with produce available for donation. Borderlands' trucks make the daily trip of picking up and unloading thousands of pounds of fresh produce. Once at the Borderlands warehouse all produce is organized for distribution through one of many Borderlands programs.

Organizations are encouraged to stop by our Nogales, Arizona warehouse on Mondays to pick up fresh produce for their and their clients use. Tuesday through Friday, locals are encouraged to stop by the warehouse to shop for fresh produce. Every year, through our Produce on Wheels With-Out Waste (P.O.W.W.O.W) pop-up markets program we distribute over 5 million pounds of fresh produce to anyone (70lbs for $12) at these markets around Arizona.

Warehouse Gallery

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Borderlands?
A Non-Profit produce rescue operating in Santa Cruz County for 23 years, whose mission is to help supplement meals for families nutritiously by distributing a large variety of fresh rescued produce. Clients of Borderlands do not have to income or residential qualify to use its services, that means everyone is welcome!
  •                Borderlands works without any government monies or commodities.
  •                Borderlands principally rescues fresh produce.
  •                Borderlands is an International organization.
  •                Borderlands can follow the donated produce from donor to end recipient.
What do you mean by rescued?
The produce crosses from Mexico to the U.S. and is unloaded at local distribution warehouses for its sale.  For a variety of reasons not all of the produce is sold.  Borderlands has been educating the produce industry to not “dump” the unsold produce at the local landfill but instead to donate to Borderlands for its re-distribution to families; therefore we rescue it directly from the produce distribution warehouses.
Where does the rescued produce come from?
The greater majority from Mexico via the U.S. and Canada for sale, arriving thru the Nogales Port of Entry.  Some is also rescued in Yuma, AZ and some from local hydroponic plants.
Is the rescued produce fresh?

We're glad you asked, this is the most surprising thing for us, the fact that anyone would throw away such fresh, often even organic, produce. Everything we distribute is completely healthy, and edible, it is only headed to the landfill because the distributors couldn't sell it.

Why is fresh produce taken to the landfill, and not sold?

According to distributors and growers, the reason why so much of their produce is either left in the field to rot, or just taken to a landfill is because consumers won't buy it. According to them, the standards set out for what consumers will buy is much higher than just ensuring the produce is edible. Much of the rejected produce we handle simply suffers from cosmetic damages such as rain stains, or discoloration, and so, if not for Borderlands, that produce would be left to rot.

Borderlands website only talks about produce, does Borderlands offer anything else?

This is one of the reasons why we like to think of ourselves as a different kind of food bank, we distribute nothing but the fresh produce we are able to rescue. We recognize there are a great number of food banks out there working to meet the needs of families through non-perishable goods. However, given our close proximity to a large port of entry and the large amount of produce in our area, we are solely focused on providing families with fresh produce.

How is the rescued produce re-distributed?
Borderlands has four programs thru which it re-distributes the rescued produce.
  1.                Veggies R Us:  Direct Client/Agency distribution out of Borderlands warehouse facility.
  2.                Produce on Wheels With-Out Waste (P.O.W.W.O.W.) An Arizona re-distribution program.
  3.                Produce Travels:  24 other U.S. States receive produce from Borderlands.
  4.                Animals Love Veggies: When Veggies perish we feed animals nutritiously.
Do I need to qualify for food assistance to get help from Borderlands?

Not at all, in order to receive any of our produce you can attend any of our distribution sites. Borderlands Produce Calendar