The two major goals of sourcing produce as a co-op are to increase variety and drive down produce costs. One major way our co-op can reduce the cost of produce is by sourcing produce that is packed in bulk bins instead of produce that is pre-packed in bags or cartons. Your food bank may be wondering how it can possibly handle distribution of bulk produce. Our food bank struggles with the same concept! As we all know, it is easier for many of our agencies and programs to distribute produce that is conveniently pre-packed.
What if we told you there is a contraption that would allow your food bank to reduce produce costs and engage your volunteers? Better yet, that your donors may even be willing to fund the cost of the machine due to its innovative nature. We are thrilled to tell you that such a machine does exist!
Gleaners staff members were introduced to this machine while visiting the Second Harvest Heartland in Minneapolis, MN. Now it’s our turn to introduce the Manual Clipping Machine to you!
Manual Clipping Machines allow food banks to repack bulk produce in three simple steps:
- Weigh produce to preferred specifications
- After reaching the preferred weight, transfer the produce into the machine’s tube
- Once the produce has traveled through the tube and into the knitted netting, simply cut and tie off the bag of produce before transferring into a tote for storage
Second Harvest Heartland purchased their machines from TAPE products and paid approximately $2,300 for each of their machines. The netting needed to bag the produce costs $104/roll plus freight. Each roll can produce approximately 4,300 22” long bags, which ends up costing about $0.03/bag. The machines can operate using staples to seal the top and bottom of each bag, but SHH found that having volunteers cut and tie the bags manually was actually easier than utilizing the staples - and it saved them money.